Andrea’s film review – Firebird

Firebird ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali

Firebird follows a handsome, soulful young soldier who embarks on a clandestine sexual affair with a charismatic fighter pilot on a Soviet Air Force Base at the height of 1970’s Communist rule. Out on Friday in selected cinemas.

Firebird had its world premiere at the BFI Flare Film Festival last year, but its release now could not be more timely. Based on a true story about closeted-love in the repressive Soviet military, it may be set in the 1970s, but sadly it’s just as relevant in today’s landscape.

Back then homosexuality in the military was outlawed and punishable with five  years of prison or labour camp, all which gives this story a certain tension throughout.

However, beyond those stakes and the Estonian setting, everything else about this forbidden love story feels very much like going through a well-trodden path. It was only a couple of years ago that Moffie, a much superior film in my view, raised very similar themes.

The rather melodramatic script of Firebird is riddled with clichés, predictable scenes, two-dimensional, and at times even a bit cartoony, secondary stock-characters (the KGB “bad guy” for example was almost a parody of himself) and clunky dialogue in which people constantly seem to speak their thoughts aloud, in a rather distracting fake Russian accent.

British actor Tom Prior (from Kingsman: The Secret Service) has definitely got the right face for the main role of young Sergey. He’s a very likeable and believable presence, despite being surrounded by people not as good as he is and forced to wear a terrible wig in the second half of the movie, which not only looks fake from miles away, but also makes him look younger instead of older.

Interestingly Prior is also the co-writer, co-producer and the music supervisor for the film: clearly this must have been a project close to him and I honestly wish I could have liked it more than I did.

Despite its clunkiness and predictability, its heart is in the right place. It’s nicely filmed, always watchable, never boring and it has a moving ending, which makes you want to forget about all its shortcomings (and annoyingly, it made me tear up a bit, old softie that I am…).

Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick

Firebird is out on Friday in selected cinemas.

See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali

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