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|Index||13 reviews in total|
I liked this movie and gave it a 9 rating. Unlike many other Dutch movies
the characters were real and the acting was very good.
The movie very realistically shows what goes on schools and how young
children cope with this. And also very important: How parents are often
unaware of what's really going on.
The 12.5 years old girl did some really good and natural acting. This also
applies to the rest of the cast.
The movie does a really nice job at playing on your emotions and it makes
you realize that this movie could have ended in a very different way. The
way they subtly integrated this in the script is great.
This is a movie which should be shown on each school to make children aware of what teasing can result in and how it can destroy a human life (and potentially even more). And perhaps even more important: That it's possible for one single boy/girl in a class to make a big difference by refusing to be an "innocent" bystander.
Thumbs up for this Dutch production. I'd like to see more movies of this quality.
Perhaps it was just my major penchant for European coming-of-age
stories, but I was glad that at the pivotal third weekend at this
year's SIFF I happened to come across the Dutch charmer "Bluebird", an
affecting, agreeably minimalist chronicle of one girl's crucial step
from childhood to adolescence, in a film skillful enough to distinguish
genuine sweetness from saccharine condescension, thankfully sticking
throughout to the former.
In "Bluebird", Merel (Elske Rotteveel) might just be the most charming 12-year-old in her city-wide junior high school, and yet she's ostensibly the school's most ambitious pariah. With few friends despite an ample dose of after-school activities, she's an ever zealous, extremely bright student whose naturally superlative work is often, at least to the teachers, inconspicuous. She's on the diving squad, sings in the class musical and consistently gets high marks in school, but yet it seems perhaps too natural for anyone to notice, a physical and emotional overload with no room for exultation.
Along with her busy schoolwork, she also has to embody an almost mother-infant relationship with her physically and mentally disabled younger brother, who's facing another possible stint at institutionalism.
Given, with little time to even stop and catch her breath and less time to be a kid, it's remarkable she still ends up being exuberantly individualistic, taking whatever time she has left to learn and discover something new, and it's this non-conformist and resourcefully intellectual sense of self that puts her at odds with the more vacuous, angrier "cool kids" in her class.
Whether it be her innocently but repeatedly upstaging them in practically every class, her equally graceful ignorance of their tauntingly unctuous invitations or her modest, tomboyish apparel, she becomes the center of their unreasonably cruel string of pranks and lunch-hour hazing. They verge from the more emotionally harming (sarcastic physical mockery and some rather vile name-calling) to the more violent intrusions of personal safety (locking her in the bathroom and eviscerating her treasured bike), all of which strike the earnest, usually attentive school officials and Merel's parents as alarmingly unforeseen.
In turns out that her only sense of comfort is in an English-speaking train-stop acquaintance, whose perpetual smile earns her trust, but it's ultimately his soft-spoken wisdom and the universal lessons that casually nurture her through their brief but enriching encounters. A lesser director might have him blanket a nefarious agenda, but he is ultimately Merel's eye of the hurricane, one to bolster both her self-esteem as well as her mental ascension from a precarious childhood mind to a woman with a firm grasp of herself and the people around her (as well as giving her the film's title nickname)
Ultimately, Merel (and the movie) comes to her character's pivotal crossroad, if she succumbs to peer pressure and compromises her individuality, or if she rejects the school's inanely shallow bullies and strives to draw friends who respect her special, richly defined persona.
"Bluebird" is, inevitably, a very conventional movie (it was previously an after-school special in the Netherlands before going to the big screen), but it's neither a stale or cynical one, just resoundingly pure. It squarely focuses on Merel's point-of-view (she's in every scene), and while it gives the movie perhaps a lop-sided feel when it deals with her interactions with the school bullies (they remain malevolent, and often indistinguishable; perhaps a true statement on the nature of bullying itself, but without any of their viewpoints, this particular aspect of "Bluebird" has a noticeable lack of dimension), it doesn't damper a movie still rich with keen, non-condescending insight on the often anxious and terrifying time of moving from the innocence of childhood to the self-defining responsibility of being a young adult.
And it's all superbly carried by the young Rotteveel, who here radiates a seamlessly endearing mix of a precocious sense of original taste and dependability as well as a youthfully sensitive vulnerability, especially when her tribulations, during and corresponding to the harsher interpersonal situations, can't be easily handled. Most movies would only dare to focus on one aspect to swiftly move the story along, but here Rotteveel deftly adds layers to her beleaguered but exceptional character, peeling each one to show her character's burgeoning maturity with a natural, impressive ease. Even with all the trials and hardships that befall upon Merel, Rotteveel's instincts, just like the simple but lovingly resonant charms of "Bluebird", are resiliently sound.
A few minutes into this delightful film, my partner whispered, "Merel
doesn't waste a second." That's right, she doesn't, and neither does
this outstandingly well crafted coming-of-age film about a precocious
and ambitious 12 year old girl living in Rotterdam. Merel (young Elske
Rotteveel) would be quick to correct my last statement, pointing out
that she is in fact 12 ½ years old, not 12.
Merel zooms on her skateboard to barely catch the morning train, reads Roald Dahl on the trip to school, aces the oral discussions in her classes, dashes off after school to fetch her kid brother Kasper and wheel him home (he's a Thalidomide child without hands or forearms, unable to walk), then on to her high diving lesson at the swim club, or to the next rehearsal for the musical "Turandot" that she's in, then homework and snuggling up with Dad to watch TV for a minute, but only after she has bathed Kasper and lovingly acted out a story using little figurines to entertain him.
What's wrong with this picture? Well, for one thing, Merel doesn't appear to have a single peer friend. For another, she seems more than a little pushy in asserting her mastery of everything she attempts. When the lead singer in "Turandot" rehearses a solo, Merel - who naturally has memorized the lead part in addition to her own choruses - sings along and must be shushed by the drama coach. In class she's quick to signal that she knows the answers and she's always right, always.
She doesn't act the snob or smarty pants: far from it. Her manner is entirely natural and unassuming. In fact she exudes a wondrous confidence and charm; she's tender and loving toward her family. She is just so damnably competent that she's irrepressible. And she's so busy, her life is so full, that she hasn't yet felt lonely, felt the need for friends. Her mindless diffidence and superior achievements begin to cost her big time with the other kids at school, as she becomes the target of escalating teases and worse.
The story hurtles along toward the climax and resolution of her social dilemma, reaching a conclusion that is fitting and believable. Splendid supporting turns are contributed by Kees Scholten as Kasper, and by a male actor named Anne Buurma, who befriends Merel on the train and nicknames her "Bluebird." Don't for a second be put off by the fact that this little gem was made for TV. You won't see a better C-o-A story for some time to come. This movie should be required viewing in every middle school in America. My grade: A- 9/10
"Bluebird" is an extremely well-crafted Dutch movie which, though
originally produced as a children's film, would be enjoyed by audience
of any age. It features a 12-year-old schoolgirl, Merel (meaning
'blackbird'), who is a good student, a good swimmer, a caring older
sister for her handicapped young brother and an avid reader of classic
English novels. One day, suddenly, she found out that she's being
bullied and later, physically beaten by certain classmates of her. But
she didn't somehow complain or inform about this to her teacher or her
parents. But her private life and her nature began to change.
From my description of Merel's character earlier, it may seem that she's a perfect child. But she's not. She does not have any good friends except a kindly man she met at the train. She is basically introvert. But she's not at all glum or mentally precocious. She is happy when she really likes it, at other times she's just silent. In this very difficult role in my opinion, debutant Elske Rottevéel gives a really outstanding performance. The camera is on her in practically every scene, showing her every emotion. And she never seemed uncomfortable or weak in her role. The occasional bits of Merel's subtle and controlled expressions of happiness are nicely portrayed by Rottevéel. I safely write that hers is one of the top five performances I've seen by a child actor. And mind you, she's not some 16-year-old playing 12.
The film ends with a quite predictable ending, which is good because I wouldn't like major plot twists in this kind of films. The filmmakers should be thanked once again for presenting us such a simple example where one doesn't need to exaggerate in any way to make a good film. And thanks to the film authorities of Netherlands to select this film to compete for the Academy Awards nomination, otherwise audiences like us from another continent wouldn't come to know about it.
The last two Dutch films I saw had lead characters that did not make you
root for them ('Drijfzand' and 'De Ordening'). That is OK if the movie has
other things going for it; sometimes a hero would just be in the way.
Unfortunately, those two Dutch flicks had no such other things going for
Blue Bird is different, partly because its makers cheated.
The lead character is Merel, a girl of 12 who has started attending secondary school. For some reason or another (who knows why these things really start?) she gets off on the wrong foot with the rowdy crowd of her class, and from then on she is being bullied and beaten up by that group.
Merel has some average qualities, for example in that the she is slightly nerdy. But most of the time she is being the ideal person: she can sing, she is a swimming champ, she is a very caring and devoted sister to her charming and handicapped little brother and she is one of the best students in her class. This makes it very easy to care for her: you want her to overcome the bullies, and grow in the process.
And this is where the makers cheated: her being so perfect also makes it difficult to imagine her the target of bullies. Bullies usually pick on the weaker kids. Although Merel does defend herself, she seems to have no friends for most of the movie, except in people that are not in her school.
Director Mijke de Jong uses another trick to make us feel for Merel. The camera is often distant, hidden behind backs or staying away from the action, so that it feels that not even the registering eye will step in to help this poor girl.
Elske Rotteveel as Merel believably portrays the lead character in both sad and happy times, and holds her own in both speaking and silent moments. She outperforms her grown-up colleagues in many scenes, making her Merel stand out even more.
All in all this is an engaging TV film.
I happened to watch this movie by mistake while channel surfing on
MHZnetworks programming on our local cable channel. I cannot tell you
how much this movie moved me. This movie portrayed a very different
"ethos" (exhibited by Merel and her adopted brother) from what I had in
my mind about a young child like this from a European nation. The kind
of love, attachment, care and a sense of responsibility to, that Merel
showed to her adopted brother is commonly seen in Africa and other
poorer parts of the world. She had a deep deep love, commitment and
sense of obligation to her brother that is very uncommon in the western
world where kids (like her classmates) are very selfish and have this
sense of "entitlement" to their own toys, bedrooms, whatever.....
I especially love the scene where she wheels the little boy to the dock by the water to see the boats (She is wheeling him on his wheelchair, singing and they are both soooo happy!). That was a very "heavenly scene", it portrayed the carefree nature that EVERY child should have in this world, not worrying about bullying, family problems e.t.c, but just being a kid and seeing the beauty of nature and life. Unfortunately, Merel's life changes real fast and she starts getting bullied at school. I was especially touched with her somewhat "steel pulse" amidst all this. She is still able to read have the mental capacity to save enough money to buy Leo Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina", not a typical 12yr old's choice, which I think portrays her indomitable spirit and maturity also.
Her friendship with the train passenger was especially refreshing. Many young girls like her usually end up being abused by strangers like the man she striked a relationship with in the train. But, this man was more like a guardian angel to her. Having a love of books, and noticing it in Merel (very unusual for a 12yr old to real Leo Tolstoy)...he embarks on this journey with her, eventually offering her a book that he discussed with her. We need to see more of these kind of relations in our world today - where a black man and a caucasian woman are not portrayed in such graphic and racial terms; but rather in a way that shows that not all black young men are rapists, nor all young caucasian girls are sluts either. What a refreshing thing!!! It is not by surprise that the little gift from the stranger in the train, is the very thing that gives her a break from the bullies. The very thing that she loves (books), is the very thing that redeems her from being bullied.
I loved very much the way her parents supported her. The scene where mom holds her, and she cries and she is babied....Awwwwwwh. Then daddy comes home, after mom has already done so much, and he gives her some more love, but with the wisdom and language that a dad is supposed to provide as a leader for the home. Every kid deserves this lovely home environment, when mom and dad are playing their roles perfectly with no compromise or resentment. It is no surprise that they adopted the dissabled boy, they can handle it, we see it by the way they already handle their own child. I also love the resolve and wisdom the dad portrays when Merel asks about getting a piercing - he is shocked, but wisely suggests starting with earings, such wit!!. He does not say absolutely not, he offers an alternative even if Merel did not particularly like it. A piercing to her was not so much to be a symbol of rebellion, but a symbol of toughness apparently to her bullies.
This movie would be a PERFECT tool to use to address the endemic bullying problems that our children are having to deal with on a daily basis in the schools today. I would love to see more movies like this - No vulgarity, No obscene sex scenes, just a perfect film with a Hugeeee message to convey to families about pain, suffering, resilience,fortitude and true love in our relations with others. A perfect film!! of the movie that were very
A 12 year old girl got to be 'picked' (bullied) on at school from just on
moment on the other.
At home she doesn't tell here parents, and as the situation get worse and
worse, she gets quieter all the time.
She has an (adopted) younger disabled brother and the have an excellent
She is with him all the time.
When stuff get worse, it start effecting the 'bond' with here
I find the 'play' between the girl and her disabled brother real good, and the atmosphere from the school klas picking on her, real enough to be true. (in NL anyway.) Good movie, i wasn't bored for one moment.
Merel is the "perfect" child - the mother's good daughter who lovingly
cares for her disabled younger brother; an ideal student from the
teacher's perspective, she knows all the answers. This last trait leads
to her being bullied at school. The acting is very good.
The scenes are good enough to serve as talking points, but the bullying may be too intense for many kids experiencing such abuse.
The film also has it's limits. The mother is too accepting of Merel's explanation that her skateboard fell into a canal (thrown there by her peers) and the resolution at the end - not to be mentioned as a spoiler - is simply too simplistic and not at all realistic.
Hi guys, This movie goes about a girl who is named Merel, yes her
mother and father give her that name. it amazing yeah. she is a nice
girl and she has a lovely brother.
Merel is a young girl with a lot of talent. She excels at school, is good on the springboard and is careful too. Her severely handicapped brother Kasper gets a lot of attention. Merel also has talent for singing. It is no surprise that she is asked for the school musical. But maybe Merel is a bit too convinced of herself. When people perform solos, she likes to sing along loudly. This doesn't fall on good ground though. People start ignoring her and she is getting bullied. All of the sudden Merel's life isn't that easy anymore, it will be hard to keep herself together. Written by Arnoud Tiele
Since my English isn't very good I will try not to repeat what other have already said. Sure, this movie is excellent, but what was a bit annoying for me is the lack of anger. The girl is just too good to be true. I expected a reaction from her and not just some stifled emotions. At the end you can feel that she's on the edge but she doesn't cross it. Or maybe she does? In one scene she stands at the hill with her brother. Her face changes as if something sinister happens in her head. I really thought she will push him down. In many cases victims become like their bullies. Maybe she really did push her brother down but the scene was cut out? That would explain why her brother was angry (at her) later and why she felt so guilty. I need to watch the movie again to be sure. Also, what's up with that black guy? I just don't like when strangers talk to children no matter how innocent their intentions are. It's not proper.
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