Critic’s Choice: ‘Suburban Birds,’ Qiu Sheng’s lovely debut, has its L.A. premiere

A scene from the movie “Suburban Birds.”
(Cinema Guild)
Film Critic

Beautiful mysteries abound in “Suburban Birds,” a sharp and beguiling debut feature from the Chinese director Qiu Sheng. It begins as the story of a group of engineers working on the outskirts of a rapidly growing city, taking measurements and assessing the terrain. Before long the movie takes a left turn and sets their narrative in delicate collision with another: a lovely portrait of young children at play, their games and adventures initially seeming to unfold in an earlier time frame.

As the two stories play out, however, subliminal connections appear, and specifics of who and when become increasingly hard to nail down.

The pleasures of Qiu’s movie are rooted not in concrete answers but rather in his graceful storytelling and bold, boxy visual style, which uses bright colors and quick, darting camera movements to complicate and clarify our perceptions.

“Suburban Birds,” which is receiving its L.A. premiere Friday night courtesy of Acropolis Cinema, is both a delightful puzzle and a moving riff on how time does and doesn’t transform us.



‘Suburban Birds’

When: April 19, 8 p.m.

Where: Echo Park Film Center, 1200 N. Alvarado St., Los Angeles

Tickets: $12