Penguin Bloom is based on the true story about Sam Bloom (Naomi Watts – Allegiant), who lived the perfect family life out in Thailand, with three growing kids and husband Cameron (Andrew Lincoln), before things went disastrously wrong.
She’s now wheelchair-bound due to breaking her back – we’re told at what doctors call her T6, but which she calls her “bra-strap”. As such, she’s paralysed below the waist, meaning she can’t get dressed, or even go to the toilet by herself. It happened when she fell down a hill after leaning on an unknowingly broken fence, for which son Noah (Griffin Murray-Johnston) feels responsible, because he led the family up to the place where it happened.
In the time that follows on leaving hospital, Sam understandably wants to shut herself off from the world and avoid everyone, while the kids feel like their mum was ‘stolen’ from them because she’s no longer active around them.
Along the way, we see her getting tremors in her legs – as her body adjusts to the new normal, and as part of her physiotherapy, she goes kayaking, which leads to a moment where she and her therapist, Gaye (Rachel House), sing part of Radiohead’s Creep, but because this film is a PG certificate, they don’t sing the line, “You’re so fucking special”, which was changed to ‘very special’ for the radio edit, anyway. Here, it just gets side-stepped around.
But before too long into the film, she’s occasionally driven mad by a magpie which has been taken in by the kids, who have called it “Penguin”, because it’s black and white. However, on the plus side, it does force Sam out of bed and into her wheelchair when she’s at her lowest ebb.
Thus, Penguin Bloom ends up feeling like a ‘feelgood movie’ where she doesn’t feel good for the most part, especially when she sees reminders of how active she used to be.
For those of watching this movie which is based on a true story, it comes across as incredibly contrived, quite often.
Penguin Bloom is on Netflix now, but isn’t yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD.
Check out the trailer below:
Running time: 94 minutes
Release date: January 27th 2021
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (ARRIRAW (4.5K), Anamorphic Ultra Panavision 70)
Director: Glendyn Ivin
Producers: Emma J Cooper, Steve Hutensky, Jodi Matterson, Bruna Papandrea, Naomi Watts
Screenplay: Shaun Grant, Harry Cripps
Novel: Cameron Bloom, Bradley Trevor Greive
Additional writing: Samantha Strauss
Music: Marcelo Zarvos
Sam Bloom: Naomi Watts
Noah Bloom: Griffin Murray-Johnston
Cameron Bloom: Andrew Lincoln
Young Noah: Essi Murray-Johnston
Rueben Bloom: Felix Cameron
Oli Bloom: Abe Clifford-Barr
Jan: Jacki Weaver
Gaye: Rachel House
Bron: Lisa Hensley
Kylie: Leeanna Walsman
Megan: Gia Carides
Penguin: Gerry, Clipper, Eugene, Maggie May, Mavis, Pew, Pip, Wendell, Swoop, Hollywood
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.