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The Book of Birdie Movie Review

Written by Stuart D. Monroe

Released by Melancholy Star

The Book Of Birdie Poster

Directed by Elizabeth E. Schuch
Written by Elizabeth E. Schuch and Anami Tara Shucart
2018, 91 minutes, Not Rated
Released on October 2nd, 2018

Starring:
Ilirida Memedovsky as Birdie
Kitty Fenn as Julia
Suzan Crowley as Mother Superior
Kathryn Browning as Grandmother

The Book Of Birdie 01 The Book Of Birdie 02

Review:

Religious horror is full of symbolic imagery and icons. Often there’s something in there that you’ll consider blasphemous (if you’re the religious type). Similarly, coming-of-age films will have those moments where you are inclined to say, “That’s not appropriate for a kid to be doing!” Well, duh…it’s called coming of age for a reason, after all. When you throw in an all-female cast and a heavy feminist perspective, you can bet that you’re going to remember it.

The Book of Birdie is the story of Birdie (newcomer Ilirida Memedovsky), a teenage girl of extraordinary beauty and innocence. However, she’s dropped off at a convent by her Grandmother (Kathryn Browning; Netflix series House of Cards) for her own good and safety. Birdie is quiet and reflective. Birdie also bleeds constantly. Soon after arriving, she has a miscarriage. She puts it in a jar and names it Ignatius. She collects her menstrual blood in bowls and jars. She’s seemingly losing her mind, until she falls in love with the groundskeeper’s daughter, Julia (newcomer Kitty Fenn). She’s discovering who she is while under the care of the nuns. Some of the nuns she talks to are dead; one is a cheery young woman who hung herself from the tree by a reflection bench while another is a white-eyed, vaguely demonic spirit that lives under the basement stairs. Is Birdie losing her mind? Is she a future Saint, as some of the nuns start to believe? Or is she just a young woman dealing with past trauma and the horror of growing up under the pressure of fast-approaching womanhood.

The Book Of Birdie 03 The Book Of Birdie 04

This was an interesting one for me, because I am NOT the target audience here. I am a 39-year-old man who’s never had to deal with abuse or the pressure of being a woman. I simply cannot relate. Luckily, my 14-year-old daughter watched with me. I needed the perspective, ya’ dig?

The Book of Birdie is visually stunning in both its imagery and cinematography. You’ll not find anything else even remotely like it. The bleak, cold exteriors on the shores of Lake Michigan are counterbalanced by the warm womblike hues of the interior of the convent. Conversely, Birdie’s time with Julia are the movie’s brightest and sunniest scenes. The color palette and how it is applied tell a major part of the story. Beautiful is an accurate description.

The horror comes in the abstract as Birdie’s body seems to be failing her and events around her spiral out of her control. It’s a perfect metaphor for the lack of control that’s unavoidable at that age. Julia must leave, and the convent must close. Birdie can do nothing to stop it. Her safe space is disappearing, and her spirituality and sexuality are all tied up in mystifying ways. What’s a young woman to do? Furthermore, what are the nuns to do with the increasingly alarming amounts of blood play and erratic behavior from their newest charge? An expositional twist at the end of the film answers at least one of the questions presented.

The Book Of Birdie 05 The Book Of Birdie 06

My gender aside, that’s where part of my issue with fully feeling The Book of Birdie came from: a lot goes unanswered in dialogue-free and image-heavy fashion. It often just doesn’t make sense. As is often the case with films of a more artistic bent, there are more questions than answers. The Monty Python-esque animation sequences that separated master scenes are extremely jarring, too. They don't fit and break the connection brought on by the haunting beauty otherwise on display.

However, The Book of Birdie is still one of the most unique and thought-provoking films I’ve seen in a long time, utterly gorgeous and bizarre as all Hell. There’s a lot being said; whether you think it’s a statement on feminism, trauma/abuse, religion, or the difficulty of the teenage years is ultimately up to you and how your experiences have shaped you.

My daughter has been back in her room a long time, though. I hope she’s not bloodying up any statues of Jesus…

The Book Of Birdie 07 The Book Of Birdie 08

Grades:

Movie: Threestars The Book Of Birdie Cover
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About The Author
Stuart Monroe
Staff Writer
Stuart D. Monroe is a man of many faces – father, husband, movie reviewer, published author of short horror, unsuccessful screenwriter (for now), rabid Clemson Tiger, Southern gentleman, and one hell of a model American who goes by the handle "Big Daddy Stu" or "Sir". He's also highly disturbed and wears that fact like a badge of honor. He is a lover of all things horror with a particular taste for the fare of the Italians and the British. He sometimes gets aroused watching the hardcore stuff, but doesn't bother worrying about whether he was a serial killer in a past life as worrying is for the weak. He was raised in the video stores of the '80s and '90s. The movie theater is his cathedral. He worships H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Clive Barker. When he writes, he listens obsessively to either classical music or the works of Goblin to stimulate the neural pathways. His favorite movie is Dawn of the Dead. His favorite book is IT. His favorite TV show is LOST.
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