Netflix’s sports drama High Flying Bird is exactly the film you expect from Academy Award winning director Steven Soderbergh (Traffic). Using the experimental “look” of last year’s underrated Unsane and the foreboding “feel” of Contagion, High Flying Bird gives a fly-on-the-wall perspective of a sports agent (André Holland) as he senses fast-forming cracks in his career during an NBA lockout.
Usually, professional sports are projected through a luxurious lens with the people involved fitting the build of accomplished strategists. It’s a different case with High Flying Bird. It’s a film that wants to tie as much reality to the story as it can; making the pressure of business conversations and consequences relatable to general movie goers. It’s also a film that goes against stylized narrative structures by framing itself as a cleverly written stage play. Oscar winning screenwriter Tarell Alvin McCraney (Moonlight) has certainly embodied the same brand of flare David Mamet exhibits in his cutthroat writing.
With so many experimental attributes in play, Soderbergh does a good job keeping High Flying Bird steady, even if the tone of the film is overall too morose. A film like this is a walk-in-the-park at this point in his versatile career, but Soderbergh continues to prove that he’s in his strongest filmmaking when he’s using small-scale productions to zero in on isolated people.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie