Bird review: "Barry Keoghan further cements his rising-star status"

(Image: © Courtesy Cannes Film Festival)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

A personal, poignant work from Arnold that’s beautiful, unique and full of surprises.

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Bird had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. Here's our review...

"Mom said I was born looking for trouble," says Bailey (Nykiya Adams), the rebellious 12-year-old at the heart of writer/director Andrea Arnold’s latest drama. Turns out she doesn’t have to look far. Bailey lives in a north Kent in a squat with her dad, Bug (Barry Keoghan), who’s about to get married; he plans to pay for the wedding by selling the slime from a toad that’s said to contain hallucinogenic properties. 

Bailey’s mother Peyton (Jasmine Jobson), meanwhile, is living with a foul-mouthed, violent Scouser named Skate (James Nelson-Joyce). And her brother Hunter (Jason Buda) is part of a vigilante gang that Bailey wants to join. Then Bailey meets Bird (Franz Rogowski), a "proper weird" loner who’s in the area looking for familial connections, and a tentative friendship forms. 

Delivering her first narrative feature since 2016’s American Honey, Arnold initially seems to be retreading familiar social-realist ground, delving into poverty-stricken working-class lives. But in its second half Bird crosses into fable-like territory, with impressive results. 

Leading the charge is newcomer Adams, who gives a fierce turn as Bailey, but performances are strong across the board. Keoghan, his body covered in tattoos, further cements his rising-star status by crafting another striking character, even giving a tender rendition of Blur’s ‘The Universal’ at one point. 

Rogowski (Passages) also fully inhabits his role; Bird is a figure of mystery who ultimately embodies Bailey’s coming-of-age arc. With cinematographer Robbie Ryan (Poor Things, The Favourite) finding beauty in even the starkest of images, Bird takes flight quite brilliantly. 

Bird's release date is currently TBC. For more upcoming movies, here's our list of 2024 movie release dates.

Freelance writer

James Mottram is a freelance film journalist, author of books that dive deep into films like Die Hard and Tenet, and a regular guest on the Total Film podcast. You'll find his writings on GamesRadar+ and Total Film, and in newspapers and magazines from across the world like The Times, The Independent, The i, Metro, The National, Marie Claire, and MindFood.