Atlas Ptáků (Bird Atlas)
When a health scare hospitalises successful business mogul Ivo (a stone-faced Miroslav Donutil), the question of succession is raised with his children. Though Ivo believes that his son (Martin Pechlát) isn’t qualified to take over, it becomes evident that this is the least of his problems. Embezzlement, fraud and philosophical birds have a part to play in this peculiar tale from director Olmo Omerzu.
Bird Atlas pitches itself as a wry black comedy. Given the nature of its bizarre and at times surreal plot, this should be the ideal genre for Omerzu to weave his twisting narrative. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts from the cast, the comedy simply doesn’t work as intended. Everything that ensues is played so straight and executed so clinically that it robs any semblance of personality from the screen. Deadpan does not mean lifeless: Yargos Lanthimos has demonstrated this again and again with his straight-talking characters in absurdist situations. Had more been made of the gaggle of birds that act as a kind of narrator and commentator as events unfold, or if the filmmaker had been bolder with the presentation or sound design, the comedy may have worked better. As it stands, Bird Atlas is simply dull.
The plot itself is likewise underwhelming. Amid the handful of narrative threads that branch out of each other, there ends up being a lot going on, but the script is unsure of how to balance it all. Certain plot points will vanish from existence for long stretches of time before returning just before they’re forgotten about completely, simply to remind viewers they’re still there. Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of this feature is its sense of anti-climax. Though the conclusion was likely intended as a punchline, there is nevertheless an inescapable sense of dissatisfaction and emptiness when the credits roll. Little is resolved and viewers won’t feel like they’ve gained much by the end.
For what should have been an offbeat foray into deadpan humour, Bird Atlas culminates in not much more than tedium and missed opportunities.
Atlas Ptáků (Bird Atlas) does not have a UK release date yet.
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Watch the trailer for Atlas Ptáků (Bird Atlas) here: