"Birdy," is a strange, beautiful movie about two friends from Philadelphia, Al (Cage) whose slick self-confidence gives him a way with women, and his pal, nicknamed Birdy (Modine), who's absolutely goofy about birds. Inseparable as high school pals, they grow apart but still share adventures: Birdy hangs upside-down from railroad tracks to catch pigeons, and builds wings so he can fly like a bird.
Both young men serve in Vietnam and are wounded - Cage, in the face; he wears a bandage to cover his scars. Modine, shell-shocked, stops talking, spending long days perched in his mental hospital room, head to one side, looking like a caged bird.
"Birdy" isn't told in chronological order: it begins as Al visits Birdy, hoping to draw him out, agonizing as Birdy seems not to recognize him. In flashbacks, we see how they came to this point, sharing secrets, dreams, and adventures; we go into Birdy's obsession, his sensual love - romantic, and passionate - for birds. When he touches a feather, he shows how marvelously it's constructed, how beautifully. His room becomes a birdcage. His cocky canary and other pets have personalities.
Most descriptions of "Birdy" dwell on the central plot of two buddies who go to Vietnam, are wounded, and about how one tries to help the other return to the real world. The best part shows Birdy arriving at a strange, secret place in his mind; the viewer has probably never before seen such a character.
"Birdy" isn't a commercial blockbuster; love and care have gone into it, especially from Cage and Modine, both of whom are handicapped in later scenes by being denied access to some of an actor's usual tools; for Cage, his face; for Modine, his persona. They overcome that to reveal characters even more touching than those they started with.
Alan Parker, who also directed "Bugsy Malone," "Fame," "Midnight Express," "Shoot the Moon," and "Pink Floyd - The Wall," was the man to direct "Birdy," a story so unlikely that the description might be off-putting - yet so interesting it's impossible to put this movie out of mind.
Sandy Kroopf and Jack Behr
Matthew Modine, Nicholas Cage
Vietnam War, birds, post-traumatic stress syndrome, friendsh
war and peace
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