Usually, you can find many movies I recommend on Amazon Prime, but today I want to talk about this exciting crime romance released by Netflix in 2019, Earthquake Bird.
I have not seen much enthusiasm around this movie, which I instead think is a solid story of passion and intrigue with Alicia Vikander.
The beautiful and talented Swedish actress plays here the strange and reclusive Lucy Fly, a translator with a sad past living in vibrant 1980s Tokyo for many years, escaping the childhood ghosts that haunt her.
She is comfortable in Japanese culture, though isolated by her personal temperament, she is perfectly able to speak the language and equally familiar with local music, fashion, and customs.
For a long time, she hangs out with no one beyond a few ladies in a private home and her work colleagues until, by chance, she meets Teiji, an enigmatic photographer with a penchant for cityscapes and female portraits.
It doesn’t take long before they begin a relationship, while at the same time, Lucy gets to know Lily, a vivacious American newly arrived in town whom she needs to help integrate because her boss requires it.
The friendship between the women quickly solidifies, but when Lily disappears without a trace, she becomes the prime suspect.
Indeed, the plot thickens further when it is revealed that Lily and Teiji are having a secret affair behind Lucy’s back, and she soon finds herself questioning her own lucidity and the surrounding reality.
As the truth about Lily’s mysterious fate unravels, Lucy must face the shadows of the past she had buried in her memory for many years and make a crucial decision about her future.
A girl, a city, and the whole of society
Earthquake Bird is a movie many people superficially watched in 2019, at least judging the large half of highly negative opinions about it.
In the charming role of the unhappy foreigner, Alicia Vikander becomes the central element of the plot, along with the fascinating Tokyo in all its rich nuance and ambiance.
However, this atmosphere is melancholy and nostalgic through Lucy Fly‘s eyes, creating an exciting contrast to the city’s vivacity.
Under the skillful direction of Wash Westmoreland, the focus remains on the essence of the narrative, namely Vikander’s performance, masterfully capturing the character’s fears and insecurities in the emotions that she hides deep inside.
The skillful director plays with time, speeding up and slowing down the pace, maintaining a high emotional tension through the stages of the archetypal love triangle, which inevitably leads to catastrophe.
This cliché is leveraged as a catalyst to delve into more complex and multifaceted themes, offering a glimpse of human nature and social isolation in a broader context.
It does not merely investigate the protagonist’s loneliness. Still, it considers a social phenomenon, looking at the dynamics that drive individuals to close within and detach themselves from others.
Indeed, although Lucy Fly experiences brief moments of happiness, sadness inexorably torments her soul. This state of mind becomes evident in the relationships she establishes, making every interaction an experience dense with mixed emotions.
The love between Lucy and Teiji, the equally gloomy man to whom she becomes attached, will become an emotional prison in which they both become trapped and forced to confront the ever-present ghosts of the past from their obsession.
So is love the cause of the tragedy, or was it just a sweet break before the inevitable fate of these characters?
The dying aura of the 1980s
Alicia Vikander proves again to be a versatile and talented woman whose artistic maturity shines through in every scene, solidifying her presence in the contemporary cinematic landscape.
Besides her undeniable beauty, the actress has an acting skills and charisma that mainly shine in this role, even when she speaks in maybe not-so-perfect but absolutely lovely Japanese.
Her portrayal of Lucy Fly proves to be the most complex and multifaceted of her career, outdoing bigger movies such as Ex Machina and the cheerful spy story of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
Even Naoki Kobayashi‘s character, Teiji, an enigmatic photographer obsessed with the authenticity of his art, comes across as layered and nuanced.
Indeed being of Japanese descent, he has even more focus on 1980s Tokyo, where we see an amusing cutaway into television watching the famous Black Rain starring Michael Douglas pass by.
Even more thrilling is his peculiar visual diary of photographs depicting what surrounds him, which also plays out crucially in the tricky plot involving the naive American Lily Bridges.
Riley Keough, as Lily, manages to give depth to a trivial character, but her performance reflects everyday (sometimes trivial) reality and is just as convincing as Vikander’s.
Although she has less screen time, the actress effectively expresses her character’s vicissitudes with few words and many deeds.
We could say that Lily is the romantic and colorful pop side closer to the up-and-coming millennials, while Lucy and Teiji are, on the contrary, the dark and silent soul of the fading 80s generation, ready to come back only as imitations in countless remakes and reboots.
Still, who knows, maybe it’s just me raising more problems than there are in this world.