Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets, a film by Yaniv Raz

10 October 2022

James Whitman (Lucas Jade Zumann) is a troubled sixteen year old. With only one friend, Kwane (Odiseas Georgiadis), who sees the friendship as a social experiment more than anything else, James’ life is in turmoil following the disappearance of his older sister Jorie (Lily Donoghue), a month earlier.

If things were bad at home before Jorie vanished, they’ve taken a turn for the worse since. His father, Carl (Jason Isaacs), whom James refers to as “the brute” is an angry ex-navy officer, who won’t hesitate to hit his mother Elly, (Lily Donoghue) when he loses his temper.

Elly meanwhile is disillusioned with her life. In her younger days a promising career as an artist in New York City beckoned. But she was forced to abandon these ambitions because Carl wanted to move to a small town and open a sushi restaurant. Or so she tells James.

A ray of light arrives in the form of James’ classmate Sophie (Taylor Russell). Sophie is the editor of the school’s literature zine, and asks James if he can track down a poem Jorie promised to submit for publication before she disappeared. Sensing Sophie may be seeking more though, he’s happy to oblige.

While searching Jorie’s room — which Carl had placed out of bounds — for the poem, he instead finds a photo of Jorie with some friends, a few of whom James recognises. Believing they may know her whereabouts, he sets off with Sophie, who has agreed to help him, to locate his sister.

Despite its comedy billing, Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets, trailer, has more than a few dark moments. James is not as well as his father likes to believe, and as the pressure builds, James begins unravelling.

Light relief in the form of the titular Mr Bird, a pigeon voiced by Tom Wilkinson, who dispenses wisdom to the downtrodden James, lifts the mood. As do the musings of James’ hero Walt Whitman (voiced by Michael H. Cole), along with nods to the work of Wes Anderson, who is clearly a hero of director Yaniv Raz.


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