Movie review / ‘Penguin Bloom’ (PG)

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Naomi Watts as Samantha Bloom in “Penguin Bloom”.

“Penguin Bloom” (PG) ***

AS an example of high cinematic creative values, some people may consider Glendyn Ivin’s filming of a story about how a magpie pointed a crippled young mother’s course toward emotional resurrection to be a bit ordinary. But that’s not its point.

After falling from a rooftop in a Thai resort hotel, exceptionally-fit, sport-loving Samantha Bloom (played by Naomi Watts) will never walk again. 

So how does that relate to penguins? The eldest of her three small sons rescued an injured young magpie and named it Penguin. In time, it became the family’s pet. It grew up. It flew away. 

It probably never understood its crucial contribution to not only Samantha’s emotional salvage while it was a member of the family in its Sydney home but also her eventually becoming a medal-winning athlete in a sport that can be performed sitting down – kayaking.

Sam’s professional photographer husband Cameron (Andrew Lincoln) and the boys learned how to run the house. Mother Jan (Jacki Weaver) and sister Megan (Gia Carides) would visit her regularly. But it was Gaye Hatfield (Rachel House) who runs a kayak-hire business on Pittwater (I think – that’s where it looks like) who guided Sam’s self esteem to recovery and restoration.

The performances are adequate. The locations are proudly Australian (except for brief sequences visiting the holiday accident in Thailand). The narrative is matter-of-fact. 

The magpie (I think I counted in the end titles for seven different birds named as playing Penguin) is co-operative and kinda cute.

Conclusions? Cinematic values – competent but not up there with the greats. Human values – powerful without being overpowering. 

We might well see “Penguin Bloom” among the nominees when the time for peer-group awards next comes around. Its ability to polarise audience response is powerful, one way or the other.

At all cinemas


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"Penguin Bloom" (PG) ***
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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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