The Hummingbird Project review – deeply odd tunnel-digging drama | Film

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Part of me wants to cut this enigmatic drama about fibre optic cable-laying some slack for trying to disprove the notion there are no longer any truly original concepts in North American cinema. Yet Canadian writer-director Kim Nguyen’s sketchy question mark of a film proves so left-field it risks seeming esoteric or – with its technical dialogue on the matter of “neutrino messaging” – openly baffling. It’s the kind of verbose corporate parable David Mamet would sit down to write after a heavy night on the sauce.

Jesse Eisenberg plays Vincent, an ambitious day trader pumping his resources into digging a tunnel between Kansas and New York, a scheme designed to tap stock market data a millisecond faster, and thus turn him a sizeable profit. To this end, he has recruited his nervy coder cousin Anton, played – in the first of many bizarre choices here – by Alexander Skarsgård beneath a bald pate. Skarsgård wasn’t alone in spending long hours in hair and makeup puzzling over this script. Salma Hayek, as the ruthless CEO the pair aim to undercut, has her lustrous locks dipped in grey paint and offset with NHS specs. Eisenberg, meanwhile, contends with tummy trouble, for Vincent’s burrowing sets off rounds of doubtless symbolic intestinal distress.

What can it all mean? The business of rewiring America for personal gain feels secondary to Nguyen’s vision of characters who, for all their efforts to connect, appear deeply alienated. Around the neutrinos, there is some conventional messaging about faster communication not necessarily equalling better communication. Yet it’s so erratically delivered you suspect scenes have gone missing.

We get intriguing ideas, images and locations, and enough closeups of excavation equipment to enrapture plant-hire enthusiasts. With few narrative or thematic hook-ups, though, I guarantee plenty of head scratching in front of this curio.

Source: The Guardian
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