“S is for Bird“, a 2012 short film by Matt Austin Sadowski, is a magical realist yarn about the coincidences in our lives: what one constitutes as signs and patterns and strange occurrences may ultimately be just that, merely the apophenia of our wish-fulfillment, but what happens when it’s not? This is the story of Bird, a disgruntled employee of an indoor amusement park, whose desire for a co-worker takes a new turn when he makes the acquaintance of a young park visitor.
Bird, an everyman who feels dissatisfaction in his employment, is eyeing the snack bar girl; she is, after all, the only real gem in the kitschy facility, which seems ripe for another time, a park that had its heyday long ago. Lacking courage, Bird cannot find the strength to speak with the woman, until he becomes acquainted with a young girl whose picture book seems to foretell what Bird must do to win the affections of his co-worker.
Guided by the objects that are spelt in the picture book, now seemingly cryptic messages interpreted to lead to courtship, Bird finds that he has, in the process, befriended the young girl and her mother, a pair of visitors who seem just as displaced from the saccharine setting as Bird is himself. Stocked with the candor and confidence that he is endowed with a destiny to fulfill, Bird makes an approach that proves him right, although not in the way that he had originally envisioned.
Sadowski’s film toys with the notion of fate and coincidence—what is fated and what is merely the product of imagination? The tale takes a familiar approach with misinterpretation, but it is also a fine play of misdirection; there is a sweetness in the simplicity of its revelation, a satisfaction derived from a cute twist of knowledge, a la (500) Days of Summer. The halcyon days of the park may be over, but Bird’s happiness may just be beginning.