4:30 PM | BELLBIRD
2019 | Drama | 1h 36m | M
Set over four seasons on a humble Northland dairy farm, BELLBIRD is the story of a dairy farmer struggling to cope with the sudden death of his beloved wife, and the gradual bond he builds with his gentle only son and the local community.
Ross (Marshall Napier) is the third generation on the small family dairy farm and he’s determined that son Bruce (Cohen Holloway) will follow suit. Young Bruce, however, would be perfectly content to stick with his job reinventing abandoned treasures at the town dump. These are men of few words. “Mum used to do the talking for both of us,” Bruce explains to his friend and boss, Connie (a wryly observant Rachel House). The loss of that wife and mother infuses the men’s dogged continuation of farm routine with poignance – and a dawning sense of her legacy gently pushing the two of them forward.
The sweet comic wisdom of the film lies in showing how father and son, apparently at cross purposes, respond to each other’s unspoken needs – and in seeing how the local community, starting with Marley, the cocky Māori kid next door (newcomer Kahukura Retimana), watches out for them. The shared emotional intelligence in the men’s performances is a joy to behold, the perfect corrective to any of us who mistake the undemonstrative for the unfeeling. Grant McKinnon’s cinematography quietly exalts the immanence of whenua and seasonal change in country life.