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An image from Peter Lynch’s Birdland.

1.5 out of 4 stars

Written by
Peter Lynch and Lee Gowan
Directed by
Peter Lynch
Kathleen Munroe, David Alpay, Benjamin Ayres

Documentary maker Peter Lynch's debut feature film Birdland dabbles in the tricky shadows of film noir. It ticks off the obligatory boxes: beautiful, complicated women, impenetrable men, a murder (actually, two), an evil villain, a stalwart investigator, lots of sex and all-round subversity.

However, Birdland tries so hard to cover all the noir bases – to be slick and stylized – that the narrative suffers to the point of unfathomability.

Suspects abound. There's the obsessive ex-cop Sheila (Kathleen Munroe), her ornithologist husband Tom (David Alpay), seedy oil man Mr. James (Stephen McHattie) and a sex addict/hotelier Ray Starling (Joris Jarsky), to name a few. Nefariousness abounds. The oil baron is destroying the environment, while ornithologist Tom tries to unravel its mysteries through the study of dead birds (work ironically funded through profits from fracking). Meanwhile, Sheila, obsessed with gettting to the bottom of husband Tom's infidelity, tracks his every move on closed-circuit camera or by tailing him through the streets of Toronto in her white Audi.

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Lynch gets a point for trying, but Birdland's laid-on-too-thick ambiguity robs the story of all acuity.

Birdland opens Jan. 26 in Toronto, Feb. 9 in Calgary, and March 6 in Vancouver

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