Penguin Bloom review: Naomi Watts shines in family drama

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Penguin Bloom cast: Naomi Watts, Andrew Lincoln, Jacki Weaver, Rachel House
Penguin Bloom director: Glendyn Ivin
Penguin Bloom rating: 3 stars

Penguin Bloom stars Naomi Watts as Sam Bloom, a woman whose life is thrown into disarray after she falls off a building during a vacation and loses the use of both her legs.

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The film, directed by Glendyn Ivin, is mostly about Sam’s struggle to come to terms with her paralysis and adapting to her new life as an invalid who constantly needs somebody’s assistance to perform basic functions.

Helping her cope is the titular Penguin Bloom, an injured magpie that the children bring home to nurse. Sam finds kinship and solace while caring and feeding the little bird that is unable to fly despite possessing wings.

Penguin Bloom is adopted by the family. In her own way, Penguin gives Sam the strength she and her loved ones need to get through the dark times.

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If the premise sounds cheesy and hackneyed, let me tell you that Penguin Bloom is based on a true story. This is one of those real-world tales of hope and goodness that make you believe in miracles.

Naomi Watts completely immerses herself in the role. She depicts the despair and anger of a person going through a life-altering accident. This might be her best performance yet. At times, she is eerily and uncomfortably believable. It is probably safe to say the film would be completely hollow had there not been an actor of her calibre at the centre.

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Andrew Lincoln, best known for playing Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead, is also impressive in the role of Sam’s husband Cameron who, while devoted to his wife, is losing patience with her self-pity and frequent tantrums. Though not a big role, he makes it count.

Penguin Bloom is lovingly shot with consistently stunning visuals of Australian coastline. The striking imagery goes a long way in keeping the film engaging.

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Despite being a true story, the film’s plot and some character beats have a somewhat already-seen-many-times feel to it. The performances and visual quality of the film save it from being a retread.

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