EARTHQUAKE BIRD, released in 2019, taken from a novel by Susanna Jones, was written & directed by Wash Westmoreland (The Last Of Robin Hood, Still Alice).
Tokyo,1989. Swedish ex-pat ‘Lucy Fry’ (Alicia Vikander) has been living in Japan for five years, working as a translator. She has issues from her past that haunt her with a sense of guilt and wariness, but the present is no relief: she’s a suspect in the disappearance of her recent American acquaintance ‘Lily Bridges’ (Riley Keough), also an ex-pat, new to the country, and new interest to Lucy’s boyfriend, the hard-to-figure photographer ‘Teiji Matsuda’ (Naoki Kobayashi).
Slow burn psychological suspenser is mildly interesting thanks to Vikander, Keough and location shooting in Tokyo and on Sado Island in Niigata. Popular in Japan as a dancer, model and actor, Kobayashi, making his international film debut, is not as compelling as the story would dictate: chemistry is lacking in his scenes with Vikander. Connection to the characters (particularly Keough’s) is minimal, though events and behaviors feel rushed the pacing is lethargic, the payoff insufficient. Vikander skill at conveying repressed emotion provides most of the juice, and the dance & jealousy scene in the club works quite well. In total, worth a look, though it feels unfinished.
Attractive end credits are accompanied by the lulling “Shine On” Written by Claudia Sarne and Atticus Ross (who composed the film’s score), performed by Sarne, Ross and Satomi Matsuzaki.
107 minutes, with Jack Huston, Kiki Sukezani, Ken Yamamura, Akiko Iwase, and a nifty dance number from Crystal Kay & the Falsettos.