A team of surveyors are sent in to evaluate the safety of a city block after a seismic event. Simultaneously a group of children explore the area. The film explores the dynamics within the two groups and the strange connection between them.
Suburban Birds is a very ambitious film, that falls slightly short of its grasp. There are many ideas being explored of simultaneous time and space, with mystical elements and narrative twists that are more confusing than engaging. The film is at it’s strongest when focusing on the very well observed interactions between the characters. The children, in particular, are terrifically convincing. Something of childhood has been captured in this film.
The film benefits from a deliberate pace and some beautiful cinematography. There is frequent use of zooms to create the sense of an observer. We are bird-watchers, observing these specimens from afar, adjusting our focus when something captures our interest. There’s a voyeuristic feel to Suburban Birds. The environments that they explore are invigorated by childish wonder, though all bespeak a morose anxiety around modernization.
Suburban Birds is a fairly confusing though completely absorbing rumination on childhood, loss, and modern China.