Oak Cliff Film Festival Movie Review: BIRDS WITHOUT FEATHERS (2018)

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For my writing career, I watch a plethora of films of all different types and I honestly can’t say I’ve ever watched something as awkwardly realistic as BIRDS WITHOUT FEATHERS. Not only that but never have I seen a title fit so perfectly with a storyline.

BIRDS WITHOUT FEATHERS is a story about a group of broken people who are unable to make a human connection. They will do anything to find that connection and a sense of love and companionship. The film was directed by Wendy McColm who also stars in the film along with Cooper Oznowicz, Alexander Stasko, William Gabriel Grier, Sara Estefanos, and Lenae Day.

As per usual I went into this dark comedy without knowing anything about it and holy shit did it take me on a journey. BIRDS WITHOUT FEATHERS has some of the most realistic characters that I’ve ever seen. The ones you rarely see on screen, the ones that no one likes to talk about. Their actions and gestures make you uncomfortable yet somehow put me as ease. They’re real people, and no matter how hard you try to turn a blind eye to them, they’re out there.

I loved how all the stories/characters connected in some way or another. Each character is trying to grow into the person they think they should be despite their insecurities, doubts, and constant failures.  Slowly building with layers of different emotions throughout the film. It’s a story that I think everyone should watch because it’s unlike anything out there. It’s honest, raw, and heartfelt with no strings attached.

Although I loved all the stories, the relationship between Neil (Wendy McColm) and Jo (Lenae Day) was my favorite. It was utterly bizarre, yet weirdly poetic, in how well they worked together and helped each other grow. Not only did Wendy direct and write this brilliant film, her performance was outstanding. Being able to portray a lack of connection to humanity is not something that comes easy. It’s easy to fake happy and she kills it with every scene. Lenae Day is equally as brilliant and was hands down one of the most interesting characters in BIRDS WITHOUT FEATHERS. I adored her inspirational quotes and sweet dance moves. I do also have to mention, Alexander Stasko’s character, Tom. His infatuation with Jeff Goldblum was one of the highlights of the film as well. I mean, as Shannon McGrew would say, Jeff Goldblum is a goddamn national treasure and I think everyone secretly has a crush on him. 

As someone who struggles with depression, anxiety, and acceptance, I could relate to this film wholeheartedly. Although it’s not always this way, I often feel like I don’t have a connection to anyone and that I’m looking at the world through a glass mirror. Like everything is passing me by while others are moving on with their life and succeeding. That I never know the right thing to say while others say things perfectly. I feel like there’s potential there, but just out of my reach. A good advice giver, but never giving myself a taste of my own medicine. So I guess what you could say is I’m a bird without feathers.

BIRDS WITHOUT FEATHERS is not an easy watch, but it’s one that will suck you in if you take the chance on it. It’s driven with passion, realistic characters, and a hope for a better tomorrow. A brighter future. Thanks to the Oak Cliff Film Festival for premiering this film, as it is one of the many brilliant stories they are showing. 

Tori Danielle