(director: Sturla Gunnarsson; screenwriter: based on an Edward Riche novel/Riche; cinematographer: Jan Kiesser; editor: Jeff Warren; music: Jonathan Goldsmith; cast: William Hurt (Dave Purcell), Andy Jones (Phonse Murphy), Molly Parker (Alice), Sheila McCarthy (Claire), Michael Chiasson (Dr. Jack Tomlinson), Leah Lewis (Bette), Vicky Hynes (Deb), Greg Malone (Buster Bartlett); Runtime: 99; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Paul Pope/Janet York; Lions Gate Films; 2001-Canada)

Comes up fowl.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Iceland-born Canadian filmmaker Sturla Gunnarsson (“Ice Soldiers”/”Beowulf & Grendel”) ably helms this quirky romantic comedy, set in a small coastal town in New Foundland. Nevertheless, everything about it comes up fowl. It went straight to video, where it’s probably a good fit for cable TV. It’s based on a novel by Edward Riche.

The moody, asocial, perfectionist David Purcell (William Hurt), a heavy wine drinker, is estranged from his wife Claire (Sheila McCarthy), as he’s going it alone as the chef/owner of the gourmet cafe called The Auk. Though a great chef, he’s going broke because there are no patrons in his remote place, even with a super view. His wiseguy neighbor pal, Phonse (Andy Jones), schemes to fill the place by announcing the discovery of an extinct bird on the restaurant grounds, as he calls in the phony sighting to a radio station hosting a noted birdwatcher (Michael Chiasson). Before you can say ‘well-done’ the birdwatchers come in flocks and business is thriving. So the guilt-ridden fabricator hires Phonse’s visiting for the summer attractive red-headed college-aged sister-in-law Alice (Molly Parker) to be his waitress and the two take to each other like peaches and cream. To fill in the under-cooked plot, there’s some meaningless subplot of Phonse finding ten kilos of cocaine in the sea and needing Dave to help him sell it.

And there’s also Phonse dabbling with marketing a ‘recreational submarine vehicle,’ that suspicious industrial spies (or whatever they are) appear one night on Phonse’s property to snatch it. It’s the kind of not so bad but insignificant small film where you wonder why a mega-star like Hurt signed up for it.

Rare Birds Poster

REVIEWED ON 2/1/2019 GRADE: C+    https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/