June 15, 2018
'The Yellow Birds': DP Daniel Landin on Creating Contrasting Visuals for Iraqi Desert and Virginia Mountains
‘The Yellow Birds’ takes an honest but also visually striking look at the Iraq War and its aftermath.
While many films that could be called “war films” depend on loudness—in imagery, dialogue, and action—to get their ideas across, The Yellow Birds is not one of those films. Based on Kevin Powers’ novel of the same name, Alexandre Moors’ debut feature grapples with the Iraq war, PTSD, romantic attraction, dishonesty, and fragile masculinity, among other subjects, and yet it maintains an even keel throughout, moving us through without ever seeming too frantic, even when its characters are in the midst of battle.
Tye Sheridan, Alden Ehrenreich, Toni Colette, Jennifer Aniston and many others give mature performances here, as individuals wrestling with vast problems. The story hinges on the disappearance of an earnest young soldier, Murph (Sheridan) and his close comrade’s (Ehrenreich) knowledge of that disappearance, as well as the fallout with the soldiers’ respective families. Despite its intricate storyline, one gets the sense that the loss here is meant to be more existential.