In its final moments, as all of its loose ends are quickly resolved, we are given our first real taste of narrative ambition from the film, but as soon as it begins to reach for a deeper conversation, the credits being to roll. Instead of a case study in PTSD, the previous 90 minutes had been a wild goose chase, a strained mystery without any real stakes. We are sent on a quest to find out what happened to Murphy, when the focus would have been much more wisely placed on Bartle’s fragile response to his connection to his fallen comrade. Unfortunately, Moors is too preoccupied with recreating classic war movie iconography to check in on his damaged characters.
“…authenticity of someone who’s been plagued by the aftermath of the burden of military service…”
Framed by Daniel Landin, the gifted cinematographer behind Under the Skin and The Uninvited, The Yellow Birds does make the most of a murky river or a smoldering battleground, but there is little depth behind its reliable imagery. Almost none of the film’s missteps are exceptionally lousy, but that’s because it doesn’t take enough risks to allow itself the opportunity to truly fail. It is perfectly content to uniformly fall in line with others of its ilk, which does little more than remind its audience of the superior films they could be watching in its place.
The Yellow Birds (2018) Directed by Alexandre Moors. Written By David Lowery. Starring Tye Sheridan, Alden Ehrenreich, Toni Collette, Jason Patric, Jack Huston, Jennifer Aniston, Lee Tergesen, Aylin Tezel.
5 out of 10