Title – Penguin Bloom (2020)
Director – Glendyn Ivin (Last Ride)
Cast – Naomi Watts, Andrew Lincoln, Rachel House, Jacki Weaver, Griffin Murray-Johnston
Plot – Based on the true story of Australian family the Blooms and their relationship with a young Magpie they rescue months after their mother and wife Sam (Watts) loses the use of her legs after a tragic accident on a family holiday in Thailand.
“Do you miss your mum?”
Review by Eddie on 27/01/2021
A local Australian production that has garnered more time in the spotlight than is usually to be expected due to the continued dry spell of overseas content arriving on our shores in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the extreme disruption it has bought to the film industry, Penguin Bloom is a pleasant if unremarkable film that manages to hold your attention throughout without ever quite captivating you in its claws.
Based on a moving true story centred around the Bloom family, a family of five that found their lives upturned in the aftermath of their maternal patriarch Sam’s devastating injury whilst on holidays in Thailand, an injury that left her unable to use the lower parts of her body and disrupting her previously activity filled life, Bloom fails to find a central driver as its based on reality story plays out around the Bloom’s coming to terms with their current situation and the new addition to their family, adolescent Magpie Penguin.
Nicely directed by the predominantly TV focused Glendyn Ivin and wonderfully captured by D.O.P Sam Chiplin, Bloom is an above average local affair in many respects and benefits in a big way by having a proven star such as Naomi Watt’s on leading duties as the understandably sullen but determined Sam (a role that is easily one of her best in years after a string of so-so features) with solid supports from Rick Grimes himself Andrew Lincoln as her husband Cameron (of whom co-wrote this tales original book) and an impressive debut performance from Griffin Murray-Johnston as the Bloom’s oldest boy Noah but its a film that feels almost instantly familiar and rather by the numbers throughout with a failing to find a spark that would’ve taken it to a whole different level.
The films feathered stars and unique tale of Penguin’s ability to bring a family closer together in their darkest hour is certainly a winning aspect but Ivin’s contentment to play things out in a completely competent but pedestrian manner often holds the film back from creating huge emotional moments or engagement and the story suffers from not having a true identifiable goal to reach with there never appearing to be an endgame in sight outside of the fact Sam needs to find the happiness she once felt in her new day to day life, making the film one you would find hard to hate but one that isn’t as instantly lovable as it could’ve perhaps been.
Sold to Netflix in a worldwide distribution win, Bloom may find a larger and more accepting audience than your typical Australian slice of life tale manages to secure and their are certainly worse local efforts to have on the big stage with many (particularly families) likely to find an easy to enjoy tale with its heart in the right place.
Final Say –
A string of nice performances (both feathered and human) and an above average production help make this true life one to sit back and enjoy but Penguin Bloom never soars the way in which you would’ve hoped, the possibility of it being a new Australian classic at times appearing to be near but eventually becoming far from its reach.
3 cold bundles of Fish n Chips out of 5