Rare Birds (2001) - Synopsis
RARE BIRDS pits a seemingly overmatched and defeated Newfoundland man against his quirky best buddy, a warmly sexy acquaintance and his own mid-life crisis.
Dave Purcell (William Hurt) is ready to call it quits on his marriage and his restaurant. His wife has left him for a job in Washington and the restaurant, The Auk, like the ill-fated bird for which it was named, has never really taken off.
Disheartened and desperate, Dave endeavors to consume the rare delights of his well-stocked wine cellar and larder before they are repossessed by the bank.
All seems lost until Dave's neighbour, Phonse Murphy (Andy Jones), proposes a mad yet ingenious scheme to save The Auk. They will announce the presence, in the vicinity of the restaurant, of an extremely rare duck, attracting bird watchers the world over. Soon, the restaurant is crawling with well-heeled gastronomes, vain celebrities and bellicose politicos. The place is such a success, that Dave must ask Phonse's alluring sister-in-law Alice (Molly Parker) to help run the show.
Unfortunately, Phonse has also been up to some other tricks, including the salvage of some illicit pharmaceuticals and the secret manufacture of a "recreational submarine vehicle", the revelation of which threatens to expose the duck hoax. Sinister forces soon close in on Dave and Phonse: Have drug barons returned for their smuggled bounty? Is the narcotics squad interested? Does RV giant Winnebago want its submarine back?
Rare Birds boasts a trio of enchanting performers: an entertainingly nuanced comedic performance from Academy Award Winner William Hurt; a lovely turn by the enchanting Molly Parker; and a sure to be classic showing by the hilarious Andy Jones.
The setting itself, a small outport in Newfoundland, becomes a strong and charming character, itself. The collection of idiosyncratic secondary characters and the rural atmosphere bring to mind the much-praised film by Bill Forsyth, "Local Heroes". RARE BIRDS is Canadian director Sturla Gunnarsson's first feature following his award-winning film "Such a Long Journey. "
The film is based upon the novel, of the same name, by Edward Riche.