September 27, 2018

VIFF 2018 | 'The Hummingbird Project' Builds Drama

"Don't let go of the line."
Alexander Skarsgård Salma Hayek Kim Nguyen | The Hummingbird Project' | VIFF 2018

VIFF 2018—Montreal filmmaker Kim Nguyen's latest feature is an outlandish comedic financial thriller about the follies of blind ambition and perils of capitalism. The Hummingbird Project's premise feels so far out there and high-stakes it must have been real despite being entirely fictional.

A typical Jesse Eisenberg and atypical (also very bald) Alexander Skarsgård play oddball cousins from Wall Street who set out on an ambitious financial scheme to get a competitive advantage on stock transactions by building the fastest, most direct fibre-optic connection from Kansas City to the New York Stock Exchange. What happens as a result of their tireless and expensive construction project is a series of interesting detours about justifying life's pursuits.

Skarsgård's physical performance as a meek but driven and visionary coder is never not fascinating as he embodies a character bordering on manic and broadly comical. His embodiment of intelligence and conflict is particularly engrossing. In contrast, Eisenberg further personifies the confident ambition and determination of a real asshole so effortlessly.

Jesse Eisenberg Alexander Skarsgård Kim Nguyen | The Hummingbird Project' | VIFF 2018

Around the cousins, Salma Hayek and Michael Mando are aces as their A-list co-stars. Hayek, in particular, is devilishly diabolical as their former boss, a ruthless financial CEO and their chief antagonist, trying to sabotage their efforts. Mando doesn't get much of his own story but is delightfully captivating in acting out his hyper-competence and reason as he's tasked to engineer the cousins' ambitious plan.

Nguyen's themes are blunt and his manifestations of perceived success and failure are obvious, but the cast executes their stories so convincingly. Shot and produced in Canada, the sprawling design and outdoor settings feel lavish enough to evoke the massive scope of the characters' goals.

The Hummingbird Project's rumination on pure greed bleeds off the screen. Nguyen's detour into self-destructive tendencies takes a sideways turn when contrasted with the simple farm life also depicted. How he expresses our modern obsessions with connectivity, going faster, and wealth ironically feels rushed but still pertinent.

The Hummingbird Project screened at the opening gala of the 2018 Vancouver International Film Festival as part of the True North stream.


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