Instead, Sam finds a goal in an unexpected place: a magpie chick fallen from its nest, which the boys discovered at the beach and brought home. Noah names her penguin for her black and white coloring, and while she provides a welcome distraction at first, she’s also a destructive little thing. Adorable but boring, Penguin chirps and chirps all day long in his basket. She jumps up and walks around the house, causing mischief wherever she goes: pecking at a monkey in a sock, spilling vases, slashing a tea bag in Mom’s cup. And sure enough, Penguin leaves shit everywhere it goes. It’s way too far-fetched, but the multiple birds considered to be playing Penguin clearly had extensive training.
Although Sam isn’t initially thrilled with the presence of this new pet, she eventually recognizes a related spirit in Penguin: “He’s a wild bird, which means she can’t stay here forever.” She said, clearly commenting on his condition as well. Later, she asks rhetorically, “She doesn’t want to be stuck inside, does she?” Noah also relates to her, wondering “Do you miss your mother?” because he feels so far removed from hers. (Newcomer Murray-Johnston has an unusually demure and straightforward screen presence for a child actor, which is appealing.) Again, there’s a lot of going hand-in-hand here, when it’s enough to watch Sam take care of the bird and see how it raises it. the mood should speak for itself. It makes her feel like a mother again, when much of the parenting duty falls on Cameron out of sheer necessity.
So when Sam senses that Penguin wants to go out, she also ventures out onto the patio, basking in the sun in her wheelchair. Conversely, when something is wrong with Sam, Penguin is the first to notice it and alert the rest of the family. The bird looks at her as if she understands her pain; either you’ll go with that bit of anthropomorphism or you won’t. Much depends on how you find the story at this point. Watts’ performance, however, is so visceral and nuanced that it makes you want to believe all of this magpie magic is possible.
But ultimately Sam accepts Cameron’s suggestion to take kayaking lessons, which gives us the opportunity to enjoy the lovely Rachel House as a no-frills instructor. Penguin could regain his ability to fly around the same time. While the trip is in no doubt, “Penguin Bloom” still finds occasional opportunities to fly away.
Now playing on Netflix.