Earthquake Bird is the latest thrilling mystery-drama from Netflix that features a stellar performance from Academy-award winner Alicia Vikander.
Netflix’s psychosexual thriller Earthquake Bird eerily proves the old saying true, if two’s company then three’s a crowd. The film, which is an adaptation based on the novel of the same name by Susanna Jones, is a psychological noir following a woman haunted by the thought that death always follows her around. The title comes from the song birds make after an earthquake has passed.
Earthquake Bird wastes no time throwing audiences into the mystery-drama as it kicks off with a murder investigation with the main character being brought in to be questioned about a body that was found — Lucy Sky, who is played brilliantly by Tomb Raider actress Alicia Vikander. Lucy is a British ex-pat that works as a translator living in 1989 Tokyo, Japan.
From the start, the narrative smoothly flows between a dour police interrogation and all the events of the crazy love triangle that take place prior to the investigation.
Early on, we learn that Lucy mostly keeps to herself and is anything but the life of the party. This quiet, soft-spoken young woman seems normal enough, but it becomes apparent that something lies beneath the surface.
But everything changes for Lucy when a young man takes her picture as she is walking one day. Soon after, Lucy believes that Teiji, played by Naoki Kobayashi, is the first person to actually see who she really is, something she has never experienced before.
Things are going great until Lucy meets Lily, played by actress Riley Keough. Lily, a loud, outgoing American, is the polar opposite of Lucy, yet the two begin an unlikely friendship as Lucy helps Lily get settled in a new city.
The tension begins to rise when Lily gets introduced to Teiji. Audiences start to notice that Lily may have ulterior motives. But is it real, or is it all its in Lucy’s head? The film does a stable job of keeping viewers guessing on whether Lily is the villain or if Lucy is her own worse enemy.
This leads to Lucy spiraling out of control as her paranoia begins to get the better of her, resulting in her seeing things that might not be there. Things really hit the fan when she catches Teiji photographing Lily the same way he did with previous girlfriends and Lucy herself.
A final confrontation between the two leads Lucy to call Lily out on her transgressions. Lily admits it but seems uneasy for other reasons and mentions she feels like something terrible is going to happen.
Earthquake Bird has its issues but does get the little things right. The slow-burn pacing matches the unreliable narration of the troubled protagonist offering a unique take on the genre. The overall experience is enhanced by the engrossing performances of its cast.
Leading the way, of course, is Vikander as the Academy Award winner continues to prove that she is one of the best actresses in the industry today with her exemplary performance in Earthquake Bird. Her flawless delivery of lengthy monologues in Japanese not only showcases her dedication to her craft but also illustrates her game-changing ability to master any role she takes on. Some people may have a problem with the film; no one will take issue with Vikander’s performance as it can only be described as a flawless victory.
Kobayashi does a great job of bringing Teiji to life on screen. While his character is a man of few words, Kobayashi excels at selling the mystery with an evasive performance that keeps audiences guessing at his true motives up until the very end.
Keough, while limited in screen time, takes advantage of every moment she has. She plays the girl everyone loves to hate very well and showcases a bit of dishonest behavior, which she does so well. While this is obviously Vikander’s show, Keough’s turn as Lily is an excellent one, to say the least.
Those talented performers had some excellent direction from filmmaker Wash Westmoreland, whose previous credits include Collette and Still Alice. Earthquake Bird is a bit of a departure from his previous titles, but given his background, he is probably the perfect choice for this movie.
Westmoreland has a lot in common with the main protagonist as he is English and also spent some time in Japan in the late 1980s. This becomes very evident when viewers see how well he presents the story.
The look of the film is superb. Cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung, known for his work on Oldboy, The Handmaiden, and It, gives the movie its own sense of style. From the dark color palette to the beautiful shots of scenery, there is no arguing Earthquake Bird is a beautiful cinematic endeavor.
And it’s not just the visually appealing factors that stick out for Earthquake Bird. Academy Award-winning composer Atticus Ross provides a chilling score that pushes the tension while adding some serious value to the overall experience.
All in all, Earthquake Bird is a solid thriller that definitely falls into the category of being an enjoyable one-watch affair. For those that are a fan of the genre, the things it does right will keep you enticed until the final moments, and the thought-provoking conclusion will stay with people long after the credits roll.