Change In The Air


Reviewed by: Maryam Ghorbankarimi

Change In The Air
"The film builds up a good amount of suspense at the beginning but does not keep the pace throughout."

Change In The Air is the directing début of Dianne Dryer, who has a career of three decades as script supervisor on some well-known and memorable films such as Michael (1996) and You’ve Got Mail (1998). The film creates a vibrant setting with racially diverse characters, and a few indirect religious references throughout the film which could perhaps have been better integrated into the narrative.

The story centres around Wren, a newcomer to a quiet suburban neighbourhood, and her neighbours from three different houses. The first house is occupied by an elderly couple. The husband, Walter, is facing amnesia and spends his days sitting in his chair on his front lawn; his wife is a sweet and loving character who does her best to look after him. However, from time to time Walter wanders off and the film opens with him getting into an accident right outside his door, witnessed by the new tenant, Wren, from across the road.

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Wren has recently moved into the house above the garage of a kind couple, of whom the wife, Donna, teaches music and sings. In the house adjacent to Donna’s lives a retired couple, Jo and Arnie. The majority of the story revolves around busybody Jo, with her intense curiosity about other people’s lives. Her husband, Arnie, is an ornithologist: they often sit in the front yard, he bird watching, she watching the neighbours. There are two other characters: a young, single and happy postal worker, Josh, and a police officer who is investigating the accident.

As the title suggests, Wren’s arrival in this neighbourhood prompts a certain change that helps the characters come to terms with different aspects of their life and loss. Jo invites the community to visit Walter and keep him company and she joins him most days as well. Donna brings a piano, sets it up with in Walter’s front yard, and encourages his wife to play. However, this does not detract from the neighbourhood’s growing curiosity over Wren’s secret life. On the one hand, the police are keen to talk to her, as it appears they received the call before Walter’s accident had actually taken place, and on the other hand, she seems to receive an enormous volume of letters on a daily basis. Eventually Jo and Josh confront their curiosity and read some of her letters, which leads to the film’s mystical conclusion.

The film builds up a good amount of suspense at the beginning but does not keep the pace throughout. At certain key moments, characters simply reveal information by telling another character their backstory. The film also plays with the allegory of the birds. Arnie, the ornithologist, while trying to help Jo unravel Wren’s secret life, talks about the meaning of her name. He tells her the fable of the election of the king of the birds. The bird that could fly to the highest altitude would win, but the wren cheats and overcomes the eagle by hiding in his plumage and, once he is tired of flying, she out flies him to the highest altitude. Whether Wren is the ‘king bird’ in this scenario or not, her presence definitely does awaken something in this quiet neighbourhood, compelling people to face their demons.

Reviewed on: 16 Oct 2018
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Change In The Air packshot
When a beguiling young woman moves in next door, a quiet neighbourhood is awakened, bringing people face to face with their secrets and, ultimately, themselves.

Director: Dianne Dreyer

Writer: Audra Gorman

Starring: Rachel Brosnahan, Aidan Quinn, Mary Beth Hurt, Satya Bhabha, M Emmet Walsh, Olympia Dukakis

Year: 2018

Runtime: 94 minutes

Country: US


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