Amy Morton

Bluebird film

A few days ago, I happened to walk past a small school bus in Manhattan. It was parked on a quiet, shady street, in front of a brick-built public school. On its back window, a small sign declared “THIS BUS HAS BEEN CHECKED FOR SLEEPING CHILDREN.” If you know anything about Lance Edmands‘ debut film, Bluebird, you’ll understand why this kind of sign (and the kind of practice it’s meant to encourage) is so necessary. You might also find yourself getting sniffly while looking at a random school bus in the middle of the day, but that’s something for later. Edmands’ film is set in snowy and desolate northern Maine, where a small town is rocked by the revelation that one of its beloved school bus drivers didn’t check her bus after a morning run, and all the horrifying consequences that follow from that. The drama of the film relies on the interconnectedness of its many characters, along with some stunning scenery and big moral questions that drive its narrative ever onward. The film has a stellar cast to recommend it, including Amy Morton, Louise Krause, Emily Meade, Adam Driver, Margo Martindale and John Slattery. It’s a stunner of a debut, and now it needs your help to get distributed (presumably to a theater near you, where you can cry about it in the dark). Edmands has just launched a Kickstarter for the film, aimed at helping distribute a film that has already played to plenty of enthusiastic film festival crowds.

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Bluebird

Comparisons to Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter will likely plague Lance Edmands’ Bluebird, thanks to the films’ similar subject matter – both are set in snowy small towns, both center on a tragedy that occurs on a school bus, both find their drama in the aftermath – but Edmands’ new feature quickly finds its own footing and announces the arrival of a talented new independent filmmaker. Bluebird approaches its seemingly familiar plotline with a tighter focus than Egoyan’s, as Edmands spends the majority of his film with school bus driver Lesley (Amy Morton), a kind and well-intentioned woman whose life is destroyed by a minor moment of distraction. During an end-of-shift bus check, a trilling bluebird draws Lesley’s attention away from the task at hand, with the hautning consequences of her bird-watching not revealed until late the next morning. Lesley is, however, not the only person at fault in Bluebird (the accident at the center of the film is a unique and jarring one, and is best revealed within the film), though she is the one most obviously culpable. While Lesley is absorbed with the titular bluebird, across town young Marla (Louisa Krause) is similarly engaged, but with depression, drugs, and drinks. As with Lesley, we do not know the full extent of Marla’s negligence until many hours later. Lesley and Marla’s small, twin mistakes bloom outward, and Bluebird maps the fallout from common missteps in an unforgiving world. It is, simply put, deeply heartbreaking.

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