Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Naomi Watts is Sam Bloom in Penguin Bloom.

Netflix

Plan your screen time with the weekly What to Watch newsletter. Sign up today.

  • Penguin Bloom
  • Directed by Glendyn Ivin
  • Written by Harry Cripps and Shaun Grant, based on the book by Cameron Bloom and Bradley Trevor Greive
  • Starring Naomi Watts, Andrew Lincoln and Rachel House
  • Classification N/A; 95 minutes

Don’t trust that cheesy smiling lady-and-her-trusty-bird poster that’s been circulating for Penguin Bloom, the new Netflix family drama that makes one woman’s journey to recovery seem like a fake movie starring 30 Rock’s Jenna Maroney.

While the movie does indeed feature a recently paralyzed mother overcoming obstacles thanks to her pet magpie chick nicknamed Peng – who is not, unfortunately, an actual penguin – this isn’t some cutsey, bordering-on-laughable inspiration porn. It is more patient, messy and dead-serious than its sight-gag of a poster might have you believe. This doesn’t mean it’s a great movie – just a passable one.

Story continues below advertisement

Based on the true story of Australia’s Bloom family – photographer dad Cameron (Andrew Lincoln), outdoorsy wife Sam (Naomi Watts) and their three young sons – director Glendyn Ivin’s film dutifully hits all the expected overcoming-obstacle beats. At the beginning, the Blooms are a happy and privileged brood, vacationing in Thailand without a care in the world. But then tragedy strikes, and Sam is left paralyzed from the waist down (between this and 2012′s The Impossible, Watts seems to have a real thing for the families-enduring-tragedy-in-Thailand subgenre).

Alongside Watts as Sam Bloom, Andrew Lincoln stars as Cameron Bloom, Griffin Murray-Johnston is Noah, Felix Cameron is Rueben and Abe Clifford-Barr is Oli in Penguin Bloom, available to stream on Netflix starting Jan 27.

Netflix

Back home, which happens to be a spectacular beachfront estate, Sam is left feeling useless and depressed. Cameron is at loose ends coping with three rambunctious boys, including one who feels Sam’s accident is his fault. And Sam’s overbearing mother (Jacki Weaver, contractually obligated to play these roles in every Australian production) hovers around, questioning every move the family makes. Everything changes, though, when the clan welcomes in an injured magpie chick, and, well, you can guess the rest. Hope, togetherness, family, yadda yadda yadda.

While there is little new in the film in terms of character, plot or style, the performers at least make a good go of things. Watts especially, considering that she has to balance so many conflicting emotions while dealing with a co-star who got paid in worms. And Rachel House, the New Zealand actress/favourite of Taika Watiti (Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Thor: Ragnarok) brightens every scene she’s in as Sam’s surfing coach.

Given that The Globe has eliminated star ratings for movie reviews, I’m going to cheat and award this 2½ ca-caw’s out of four. Fly away, little movie. Fly away.

Penguin Bloom is available to stream on Netflix starting Jan. 27.

In the interest of consistency, The Globe has eliminated its star-rating system in film and theatre. Instead, works of excellence will be noted with a critic’s choice designation across all coverage. (Television reviews, typically based on an incomplete season, are exempt.)

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies