Birdwatchers (15)

The ViewNewcastle Review

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Review byMatthew Turner17/09/2009

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 104 mins

Beautifully shot, superbly written and impressively directed drama with an engaging script, fantastic performances and a strongly resonant plot.

What's it all about?
Directed by Mario Bechis, Birdwatchers is set in present day Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, where a community of indigenous Guarani-Kaiowa people led by Nadio (Ambrosio Vilhava) move to the site of a large farm owned by a rich landowner of European descent (Leonardo Medeiros). The farmer has no legal right to move the Guaranis on, but a spate of mysterious suicides causes tensions between the two groups to erupt.

Meanwhile, trainee shaman Osvaldo (Abrisio da Silva Pedro), who dreamed one of the suicides before it happened, complicates things further by falling for the farmer's bike-riding teenage daughter Maria (Fabiane Pereira da Silva), while Nadio's son Ireneu (Ademilson Concianza Verga) angers his father by turning away from the tribe and taking a poorly paid job in a food processing factory.

The Good
The performances are excellent, particularly Abrisio da Silva Pedro and Fabiane Pereira da Silva, whose fumbling teenage romance is both unusual and yet reassuringly familiar in its awkwardness. There's also strong support from both Ademilson Concianza Verga and Ambrosio Vilhava, both of whom again play out a father-son conflict that's both familiar and unconventional at the same time.

The script is excellent, particularly in its depiction of the no-nonsense women of the tribe, who nod acquiescence to Nadio's demands and then do their own thing anyway. One particularly engaging and amusing subplot concerns the relationship between one of the tribal women and one of the farmer's men who's posted to the camp to keep an eye on the tribe.

The Great
Bechis orchestrates several brilliant scenes (the opening sequence, where it's revealed that the natives are being paid to pose for tourists, sets the tone perfectly) and the film is beautifully shot throughout. In addition, the script resonates with strong themes that address social and ecological issues regarding the environment versus the pressures of a global economy.

Worth seeing?
In short, Birdwatchers is a beautifully shot, impressively directed drama with strong performances and an emotionally engaging script. Recommended.

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Content updated: 24/07/2012 01:57

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