99 minutes – Comedy/Drama
Release date: September 9, 2001 (TIFF)
Canadian distributor: Lions Gate Entertainment
Rare Birds is based on the novel by Edward Riche, who also wrote the screenplay. The story is set in a small outport in Newfoundland and comes pretty close to being a buddy movie. William Hurt plays Dave Purcell, a man seemingly at the end of everything. He figures his marriage is just about over since his wife left for a job in Washington and his restaurant, The Auk, like the ill-fated bird for which it was named, has never really taken off. With not much to look forward to a disheartened and desperate Dave decides to consume the rare delights of his well-stocked wine cellar and larder before the bank seizes the assets. But Dave`s neighbour and best friend is one Phonse Murphy, perfectly played by Andy Jones. Phonse dreams up a rather mad yet darkly ingenious scheme to save the restaurant. They will announce the sighting of an extremely rare duck and once the news services spread the word, avid bird watchers from all over the world should, pardon the pun, flock to the area. And that`s exactly what happens. So much so that Dave needs extra help and brings in Phonse’s sister-in-law, Alice (Molly Parker) to help run the place. Everything seems to be going swimmingly except Phonse has been quite entrepreneurial in areas far beyond the restaurant business. In fact, he’s been involved in the salvage of some cocaine that was dumped at sea, and to that end he’s built a secret submarine. This garners the kind of attention no one wants. And what Dave fears the most is all that attention may expose his rare bird hoax.