05th Apr2019

‘The Hummingbird Project’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Jessie Eisenberg, Alexander Skarsgård, Salma Hayek, Michael Mando, Johan Heldenbergh, Ayisha Issa, Mark Slacke, Sarah Goldberg, Frank Schorpion, Kwasi Songui, Conrad Pla, Julian Bailey, Jessica Greco | Written and Directed by Kim Nguyen


In this modern epic, Kim Nguyen exposes the ruthless edge of our increasingly digital world. Cousins from New York, Vincent (Eisenberg) and Anton (Skarsgård) are players in the high-stakes game of High Frequency Trading, where winning is measured in milliseconds. Their dream? To build a fiber-optic cable straight between Kansas and New Jersey, making them millions. But nothing is straightforward for this flawed pair. Anton is the brains, Vincent is the hustler, and together they push each other and everyone around them to breaking point on their quixotic adventure. Constantly breathing down their necks is their old boss Eva Torres (Hayek) a powerful, intoxicating and manipulative trader who will stop at nothing to come between them and beat them at their own game. No matter what the cost, Vincent and Anton are determined to cut through America, only to find redemption at the end of their line, not through money, but through family and reconnecting to the land.

The Hummingbird Project, directed by Kim Nguyen, is a mixture of the slick style of David Fincher’s The Social Network and the lucrative character intensity of J. C. Chandor’s atmospheric film A Most Violent Year. Resulting in a proficient and wonderful concise character piece that’s outrageously captured with a stunningly elegant eye. Capped off with terrific performances from both Jessie Eisenberg and Alexander Skarsgård as cousins Vincent Zaleski and Anton Zaleski.

The cinematography by Nicolas Bolduc, with the editing by Nicolas Chaudeurge and Arthur Tarnowski, in The Hummingbird Project is by far the most assertive and arguably spectacular attributes the film boasts. To say it’s slick would be an understatement. The image is delightfully crisp with a hint of the colour blue or yellow in each setting of city and country for capitalism and industrialism, respectively. The former conveys a feeling of electronica or conviction and the latter an inviting warmth of optimism or deceit. These small subtle instances in the frame are perfect embellishments of the narrative and slowly drown out to a naturally muted but impacting mise-en-scene. Visually the film offers a rather stunning picture and the film’s opening edit from the fibre-optic cable to the long road well-travelled is just one of many instances of terrific thematic foreboding and visual storytelling.

The screenplay by writer/director Kim Nguyen also offers an engaging and engrossing landscape with depth and remarkably skilled underlining layers that are never explicitly stated through the text but conveyed with grace and gravitas via the resulting performances from the two main leads. Skarsgård showcases an incredibly stoic performance that is clearly meant to evoke a sense of autistic sensibility, and while it will irk some and please others for more awareness on the matter, thankfully it surrounds itself in an applaudable instance and not a laughable sidestep. Eisenberg once again cements himself as an actor with outstanding range and discernment richness in each character he develops. Here is a role and resulting performance that is in constant battle on each and every front imaginable and the sheer weight and emotionally tormented bravado of said character just oozes demanding screen presence.

The Hummingbird Project is on limited release in the US now; the film opens in the UK on May 3rd.


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