Episode 1 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 2/5
Little Birds is a show that aspires to fly high but constantly struggles to get off the ground. With a neon-lit canvas to play with, this 6 episode drama feels much more lethargic and slow-paced than it should. That’s a real shame too because this show has a lot of promise, especially given the trailer.
Little Birds takes inspiration from the book of the same name to deliver a series dabbling in erotica but forgetting to bring the steamy heat and passion with it. There’s certainly hints of that early on but it soon fizzles out and turns into a lukewarm melodrama.
All of this plays out against the sticky heat of Tangier in 1955. Hostilities are at an all-time high between the French and Moroccan’s and at the heart of this lies the dastardly French Secretary Pierre Vaney. Unwilling to listen to his advisors about a rebellion growing upon the King’s return, he instead focuses his attention on a troublesome prostitute known as Cherifa.
Interwoven with this plot-line lies Lucy, a New York-born girl forced into marrying the son of an upper-class family known as Hugo. Only, Hugo has a big secret given he’s involved in a sordid affair with a local known as Adham Abaza.
On paper, there’s a lot of potential here for some serious drama to spill over between the narratives. While there are a few stand-out moments, it comes at the expense of an overarching story about Hugo’s gun-smuggling that dominates the picture late on.
This essentially turns the romance on its head and plays out closer to a political thriller without the politics or the thrills to back it up. All of this crescendos into a rather disappointing finale that teases a whole lot more and leaves numerous questions hanging over this one.
Having not read the book I can’t comment how accurate that is to the different short stories woven through the pages but there’s definitely a feel of this being a bit half baked and rushed at the end.
It doesn’t help either that a lot of the issues with the Moroccan rebellion are reserved to whispers in bars or radio broadcasts. Throughout the series we hear news of the King arriving and causing a rebellion but yet when the final credits roll the entire storyline is left in limbo with little in the way of resolution.
Stylistically though, Little Birds is a visually impressive spectacle. The colour palette is excellent, dabbling heavily in neon lights, and the erotica is just enough to hit the right tonal spot – at least for the first 3 or 4 episodes. It’s just a pity that a lot of these simmering character arcs hit their peak early on and never look like recovering.
There’s some nice themes here though and the soundtrack is excellent too. Much like the Jazz music that underscores a lot of this, Little Birds will be an acquired taste and there will undoubtedly be some that really take to this drama and be eagerly awaiting a second season.
The acting is pretty good all round although Juno Temple definitely steals the show for her portrayal of Lucy. There’s some empowering scenes late on for her and one particular segment inside the Contessa’s mansion during a tense stand-off is easily one of the best scenes of the entire show.
After a pretty underwhelming and unsatisfying finale, Little Birds will be an interesting one to gauge going forward. The visuals and acting are great but the story feels far too lethargic and directionless than it perhaps should.
This isn’t a bad show per-se, but it’s not a particularly great or outstanding one either. Instead, Little Birds falls into the realm of forgettable mediocrity.