Right off the bat it’s important to demarcate the actual life and experiences of Sam Bloom and family from the film based on them. Sam Bloom, a nurse and avid surfer, was in the grip of depression following an accident that rendered her paraplegic when her children adopted an orphaned magpie that they dubbed “Penguin”. The bird’s rehabilitation mirrored Sam’s own journey, and their shared story formed the basis of the 2016 book, Penguin the Magpie: The Odd Little Bird Who Saved a Family by Bradley Trevor Greive and Cameron Bloom (Sam’s husband)
And now that book has become a movie. Directed by Glendyn Ivin (Last Ride), Penguin Bloom sees Naomi Watts as Sam and Andrew Lincoln as Cameron, with Jacki Weaver and Hunt for the Wilderpeople’s Rachel House in supporting roles. And while I can’t speak to the quality of the source material, and I wouldn’t speak for the Blooms’ lived experience, as a film Penguin Bloom is a rote, mawkish piece of inspiration porn of the type we’ve seen a thousand times before, although generally better constructed.