There are some heartfelt performances and vignettes in this debut feature from producer-turned-director Kirsty Bell and writers Elizabeth Morris and Dominic Wells – and certainly some lustrous monochrome images from cinematographer Sergio Delgado. But this lockdown ensemble piece about a movie production stymied by Covid is self-conscious and doesn’t really come together, and the tonal shifts can be a little uncomfortable.
Camilla Rutherford plays Rebecca, an actor who gives a great performance in a film shoot that wraps just before the coronavirus restrictions land, but then succumbs to depression due to loneliness, unemployment and suspicion that this film will never see the light of day. Meanwhile kindly fellow actor David (Derek Jacobi) is all alone in his south of France villa and facing problems of his own. Editor Lucy (Morgana Robinson) is anguished because she can’t visit her sick mum; writer Peter (Jeff Fahey) is pining for colleague Anna (Julie Dray) who has now left London for her Paris apartment and is facing an abusive ex-partner. And there are many other little short stories here, some sad, some hopeful, all about the social splintering and imprisonment that everyone went through during lockdown.
This collective depression is an entirely valid subject for a drama: as someone here says: “If we’re alone, truly alone, are we really alive at all?” But there is something a little bit laboured and unconvincing about A Bird Flew in – although Rutherford is always strong as the actor heading for Norma Desmond territory, drinking heavily and livestreaming her accelerating anguish on social media.