Penguin Bloom review – a wonderful story that’s underdelivered

January 27, 2021
Daniel Hart 0
Film Reviews, Netflix
2.5

Summary

Penguin Bloom does rely on the warmth of the story alone, and it fails to sink its teeth into the emotions of the situation.

2.5

Summary

Penguin Bloom does rely on the warmth of the story alone, and it fails to sink its teeth into the emotions of the situation.

This review of Netflix film Penguin Bloom contains no spoilers. The drama was released on the streaming service on January 27, 2021.

Based on true events (and the book by Cameron Bloom), Penguin Bloom attempts to relive a story of finding solace and a new lease of life in a family broken by a singular event. One of the main beauties of this drama is an understanding of an organised, functional and loving nuclear family unit, and how easily it can be challenged by adversity.

The singular event occurs on a family holiday in Thailand. The mother, Sam Bloom, tragically falls off a high tower — the fence that collapses beneath her needed replacing; a horrible oversight. What follows is that Sam can no longer walk, and she quickly sinks into the dark, distancing herself away from her family as much as she can, while attempting to pretend she’s reveling in normalcy in front of children.

Netflix’s Penguin Bloom craves the normal things in life — an injured magpie becomes a plot device that gives hope to the family’s future and profoundly changes their lives. While Sam Bloom endures the pain, the entire family suffers together. There are plenty of scenes of odd silences, and the understandable frustration of being unable to be a happy family again — the director has chosen fewer words, and more atmosphere to poignantly get the point across and it’s propped up well by sustained performances from Naomi Watts and Andrew Lincoln.

Unfortunately, Penguin Bloom does rely on the warmness of the story alone, and it fails to sink its teeth into the emotions of the situation. The characters are in despair, but that overwhelming sadness is rarely felt due to a willingness from the director to get to the objective. As the film progresses, Sam Bloom finds something in life that spurs on a new potential chapter for her, and it always feels like the film is moving towards that. It does struggle to inflict the shadowing depression that exists within the character and how it translated to her husband and their children.

There’s no doubt this is a beautiful story, but it does feel underdelivered for what it represents.

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