The new film on Netflix this week, Penguin Bloom, touches hearts as it takes the audience on a journey with the Bloom family after a tragic accident (just a warning – contains spoilers).
In 2013, the fun loving Bloom family experienced horror whilst away on a family holiday in Thailand.
The couple, Sam and Cameron, and their three sons (Rueben, Noah and Oli) came back from their holiday in very different circumstances to when they left.
Glendyn Ivin’s Netflix film starts with a fairly peaceful narration from Noah, played by Griffin Murray-Johnston, who tells the family story before a sudden change once the accident occurs.
The film is based on the book, ‘Penguin the Magpie: The Odd Little Bird Who Saved a Family’, which was published in 2016 and written by Bradley Trevor Greive and Cameron Bloom.
In the drama, Sam, played by Naomi Watts (best known for her roles in The Impossible and King Kong), fell 20 feet from a faulty balcony, in their hotel, which left her paralysed from the chest down.
In a recent interview for PEOPLE, Sam explained that returning home in a wheelchair and living by the beach was very hard for her to come to terms with: “The beach was everything to me…I could no longer run down there like before the accident. At that point, I didn’t want to live.”
There were moments of the film when Sam would go around the house in her wheelchair in silence, which I think was very powerful as you could almost sense her frustration through the quietness.
However, the film took a positive turn when Noah brought home an injured magpie from the beach and they chose to name her Penguin.
Cameron, played by Andrew Lincoln (well loved for his role as Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead), is a professional photographer so captured many moments of the family with Penguin, who became a pivotal part of Sam’s journey to recovery.
Another amazing aspect of the film is that there were eight magpies trained by a bird trainer for film and television, Paul Mander.
Both Penguin and Sam were trying to build strength, which you see throughout the film and they almost seem to support one another.
Penguin is trying to learn to fly again and Sam begins kayaking. They both achieve their goals and Bloom went on to win two national kayaking titles and is now a competitive adaptive surfer.
The narration from Noah would’ve pulled on anyone’s heart strings and it makes the audience feel as if they are on the journey with the family.
I think Naomi effectively portrayed the rollercoaster of emotions that Sam experienced and I thought the film had similar aspects to J.A. Bayona’s The Impossible. Watts played the mother in this too and it was also a heartbreaking story of a family caught in a tsunami in Thailand.
Award winning Australian director, Ivin, tells the story in such a brilliant way, which would make any audience member think about how much they take for granted in life.
The film ends on a positive, with Penguin flying off into the distance and Sam starting to feel more content with her new way of life.
I thought this film was so heartfelt and would definitely recommend Penguin Bloom to anyone looking for a drama to watch this weekend.
By: Emma de Duve