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The Yellow Birds

The Yellow Birds

There Are Moments That Test Us And Choices That Define UsMay. 24, 2018USA96 Min.R
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The Yellow Birds 123 Full Movie Plot & Release Dates.

t’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. So say this much for “The Yellow Birds”: When it plunks the audience down into a crumbling urban war zone, where every dirt road and alleyway could be a path to oblivion, the movie, if nothing else, creates a physically convincing atmosphere of instability and fearful tension. The movie opens with U.S. soldiers walking across a dark field, past palm trees (one of which is on fire), in a grimly patterned death march that evokes — ironically — the final moments of “Full Metal Jacket.” And, indeed, Stanley Kubrick’s great Vietnam film seems to have been a key model for Alexandre Moors, the director of “The Yellow Birds,” at least when it comes to imagining the random, bullet-strafing, enemy-without-a-face logistics of contemporary combat.

Moors, who hails from France but has lived in the U.S. since 1998, is known for “Blue Caprice” (2013), his attempt to dramatize the genesis of the 2002 Beltway sniper attacks. In “The Yellow Birds,” he stages the Iraq scenes with scale, verve, and confidence, though with nothing approaching the sustained anxiety and suspense that audiences now want and expect from a war movie. (It may sound a bit unseemly to say that films like “Hacksaw Ridge” or “The Hurt Locker” render the horrors of war unbearably exciting, but that’s part of what they do.) “The Yellow Birds” follows a platoon of U.S. Army soldiers who wind up on rooftops, engaging in shootouts with figures they can hardly see, or firing up at giant battered buildings, or being ambushed by an IED at the rare moment they feel invincible.

“The Yellow Birds,” however, is not just a combat film. It’s a somber, guilt-ridden meditation on the price of war, one that examines the intertwined fates of two soldiers: Brandon Bartle (Alden Ehrenreich), 20 years old, lost in the murk of what happened over there, and Daniel Murphy (Tye Sheridan), the 18-year-old recruit he took under his wing. The film keeps acting like it has something big to tell us; it plods and broods with self-importance. Yet in almost every crucial way, “The Yellow Birds” is a flat and listless piece of moviemaking, a monotonous indie dirge that will probably end up fighting hard to win even a tiny audience.

The Yellow Birds
The Yellow Birds
The Yellow Birds
The Yellow Birds
Original title The Yellow Birds
IMDb Rating 5.7 2,008 votes
TMDb Rating 6.2 41 votes
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Director

Cast

Tye Sheridan isDaniel Murphy
Daniel Murphy
Alden Ehrenreich isBrandon Bartle
Brandon Bartle
Jennifer Aniston isMaureen Murphy
Maureen Murphy
Jack Huston isSergeant Sterling
Sergeant Sterling
Jason Patric isCaptain Anderson
Captain Anderson
Toni Collette isAmy Bartle
Amy Bartle
Lee Tergesen isJim Murphy
Jim Murphy
Carrie Wampler isJenny Smith
Jenny Smith

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