Review: Broken people flock together in oddball ‘Birds Without Feathers’

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Broken people try to connect with other broken people in writer-director Wendy McColm’s quirky feature debut. “Birds Without Feathers” knots its multiple narratives together like hipster-made macramé, and though largely well crafted, the film will likely have a similarly limited appeal as that art form.

McColm and her costar Lenae Day intertwine the lives of six lonely characters: aspiring Instagram influencer Neil, a.k.a. Janet (McColm), sad-sack motivational speaker Daniel (Cooper Oznowicz), Russian cowboy Tom (Alexander Stasko), hesitant comedian Sam (William Gabriel Grier), indifferent nursing-home worker Marty (Sara Estefanos) and chameleon Jo (Day). In Los Angeles, Las Vegas and the desert in between, each person grasps for acceptance in his or her awkward interactions, which highlight the gaps between who they really are and what they want to project to the world.

For the record:

4:08 p.m. Sept. 19, 2019An earlier version of this review incorrectly credited Lenae Day as a co-writer. Wendy McColm is the sole credited screenwriter on the film. Also, the photo accompanying the review misidentified the two women. McColm is on the left, Day, the right.

“Birds Without Feathers” plays like “Mulholland Dr.” and “Magnolia” took a detour through Silver Lake, emerging worse for wear from the journey. Beyond its more recent influences, McColm’s movie has elements of old Hollywood, particularly in its string-strong score and its characters’ desire for a particular type of classic glamour.


McColm shows promise as a filmmaker, even if not everyone will be into their off-kilter look at the world. “Birds Without Feathers” hatches fully formed, though the resulting film’s absurdity will have limited appeal beyond its niche art-house audience.

‘Birds Without Feathers’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes

Playing: Starts Sept. 19, Downtown Independent, Los Angeles