The Book of Birdie (2017) [Final Girls Berlin Film Festival 2018]

Birdie is sent to convent by a family member so they can take care of her and she may possibly become a nun in the future. During her stay odd and strange events happen to and around her.

Written by Elizabeth E. Schuch and Anami Tara Shucart and directed by the former, The Book of Birdie is a visually interesting coming of age and trouble story about a charming, but odd young woman who was sent away to deal with her troubles while not having to deal with her. The character of Birdie is written as an oddball that is touching with a sad but sweet story. Her life is both simple and weird at the same time, something that creates a film that is slow to get into but worth the wait. It’s a story that uses visuals to tell its most important aspects while the text supports those. The characters that are supporting of this story are somewhat mysterious and even a bit mystical at times.

Playing the lead of Birdie is actress Ilirida Memedovski who is mesmerizing to watch throughout the film. She gives a natural performance that communicates emotions through her eyes and her body language as most as her words. Her performance grounds the film and gives it its personality, making the film all about her even more than the title and the script do. All other performances revolve her around hers, thus hers is the main performance, the one to watch. The rest of the cast all do great work as well with mostly understated performances that slowly but surely stick with the viewer.

The film being almost as much about the visuals as they are about the characters, the cinematography by Konstantinos Koutsoliotas creates stunning images that pull the viewer in and let the characters pull them in further and further. The film’s images are subtle when needed and powerful when needed. One scene in particular is a bit wtf but it works great in context and sets up more of the story than one would think at first glance.

The Book of Birdie has a peculiar story and way of telling it, creating a film that is fascinating to watch. It’s a film that is almost visceral in a low-key manner if that is even something. The story of Birdie is not fully defined as she learns to define herself and has her struggles and hardships. She also gets a few moments of peace, tranquility, and love that are peppered throughout the film, giving her a dimensional life to go with her dimensional personality. Her story resonates as everyone has had moments of doubt, moments where they felt weak or like they didn’t have control over their lives. The performance by Konstantinos Koutsoliotas roots the film in a sort of reality that works perfectly for it.