January 22nd, 2017       Posted by Frederik       Display Comments

…and no one’s there, the title should say. While director Alexandre Moors and actors Tye Sheridan and Jack Huston were in attendance at last night’s world-premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, but the “stars” of the film – Jennifer Aniston, Toni Collette, Jason Patric and Alden Ehrenreich – were not there. To make news worse, reviews for the film have been disappointing so far. That comes as a surprise, given the talent involved and the book it’s based on. Plus, Ehrenreich is one of the most promising actors of this day – and the next Han Solo. Nevermind, let’s see where “The Yellow Birds” is going. Here’s the first press echo after its screening.

Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter
An excellent novel about the Iraq War and its homefront fallout has been turned into a rather flat and disappointing film in The Yellow Birds. […] Then there’s Bartle’s poor white trash mom Amy (Toni Collette), a woman distraught about her returned son’s aimless life once he’s back. No matter the talents of the actresses playing the mothers, what they’re asked to do is strictly one-note stuff dramatically, so little is gained by having them enact so many repetitive scenes.

Owen Gleiberman, Variety
It’s unusual, at the Sundance Film Festival, to see a drama about a subject like the Iraq War. The economics of scale required to stage an authentic combat scene don’t tend to mesh with indie-film budgets — and besides, there are enough towering war films in our time that the bar for them has been set extraordinarily high. […] We get endless scenes of Brandon lying around in bed, skulking over to the convenience store to buy a six-pack, or warring with his mother (a convincingly emotionally bedraggled Toni Collette). He’s got his big secret about what happened over there, and he’s going to take forever to tell it, even as he’s stalked by a dour CID officer (Jason Patric) and by Murphy’s mother, Maureen, played by Jennifer Aniston, who conveys a truth-at-all-costs desperation, even though she’s a shade too punchy and telegraphed about it.

Mike Ryan, Uproxx News
In Alexandre Moors’ The Yellow Birds (based on Kevin Powers’ book of the same name), Ehrenreich plays Brandon Bartle, a 20-year-old from Virginia who enlists in the Army during the Iraq War. The Yellow Birds has been kind of billed at Sundance as “the Iraq War movie,” but even though a large portion of the film takes place in Iraq, it doesn’t feel altogether like a war movie. It feels more like a movie with a mystery. The Iraq scenes are shown in flashback after Bartle returns to Virginia a very different human being than he arrived. And Ehrenreich almost seems like two different people, transforming from the confident soldier, to the depressed and volatile man comes back, one his mother (Toni Collette) barely recognizes.