A young Jewish boy tries to survive WWII in The Painted Bird, the latest from writer/director Václav Marhoul.
Based on the novel of the same name (which, I should note, is surrounded by controversy), the boy is initially sent off to live with his extended family, putting him slightly farther away from the genocide. When the adults die the boy is left on his own, forced to wander through a strange place in strange times. Refuge is what he seeks, but there’s little to be found. Instead, he encounters a strange spectrum of humanity, most of which he may wish he’d never experienced.
So yeah, not going to be a happy movie. That’s not unfamiliar territory for Marhoul, though, as his previous feature, Tobruk, was also a war film. From the trailer you can tell he’s taking big stylistic swings with the black-and-white, nightmarish imagery, which was particularly praised during the film’s festival run.
Despite the big names of Stellan Skarsgård, Udo Kier, and Harvey Keitel, it will really come down to newcomer Petr Kotlar to handle the madness in front of the camera. He portrays the young boy at the film’s center, and while trusting a new child actor is always a gamble, it appears to have paid off. He’s also been highly praised by critics, but with as many headlines for walkouts as glowing reviews, this is one to approach with caution.
The Painted Bird is directed by Václav Marhoul and stars Petr Kotlar, Stellan Skarsgård, and Udo Kier. It will be released in the UK on March 27th, 2020 and in the US on April 17th, 2020. For international release dates, click here.
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