The Hummingbird (2022)

Directed by Francesca Archibugi

Everyone in Marco's life seems constantly restless, from his brilliant but unhappily married parents to his own wife Marina, or even Luisa, the real love of his life, a girl he met during a fateful summer in the '70s and always stayed in touch with. Tragedy and fate seem to haunt him, yet he somehow manages never to get ensnared in the chaos—like his namesake, “the hummingbird”, he focuses all his energy at standing still.

Seattle International Film Festival 2023: Film #17

What might have been a fairly unadventurous family memoir is made significantly more interesting due to the deployment of a non-linear narrative strategy, a number of strong performances from the central cast along with the heavy implication that the supernatural really exists in this film's universe. It's undeniably a very attractive movie as well, with attractive people doing attractive things, all while wearing attractive, well-fitting clothes in attractive locations. One is therefore attracted to the film in return, which is useful in order to look past its rough edges. I'm thinking in particular of where the film often lets the audience know about characters' back stories by the clumsy insertion of summaries of others' lives in the form of summaries. Also of note were the rather unconvincing secondary characters with inauthentic-feeling motivations. After the screening, I heard a number of audience members claim they found the jumps between the decades quite confusing, so it was curious that my experience was something of the opposite. Or rather, as the cuts between the timelines became faster and tighter, I actually enjoyed it more and more.

One can't help but see a bit of Fellini in the semi-autobiographical story and in the main protagonist's thick glasses à la Marcello Mastroianni. You can perhaps see Fellini in the not entirely sympathetic view of women as well, who are either histrionic in the old-fashioned sense (such as despising their husbands for believing their lies about their own infidelity), or conveniently endowing the primary male character with depth, pathos and sympathy by taking their own lives. Speaking of influences, though, the shots of the island evoked memories of watching Michelangelo Antonioni's L'Avventura (1960) as well.

Anyway, the result was somewhere between the success of James Gray's Armageddon Time (2022) and the inwardness of The Fabelmans (2023) for me. That is, there is a fair amount to like here here, especially the rather Henry Sugar-like subplot with 'The Jinx'. And whilst the third act throws an emotional ball in the air that I, for one reason or another, failed to reach for, I think I could see what it was trying to do.