Birdy [1984]

Based on William Wharton's transcendent novel of the same name, this film is about many things: friendship, war, and, of course, birds. The framing device is an effort by a horribly scarred combat soldier (Nicolas Cage) to break through to his best friend, Birdy (Matthew Modine), hospitalized after seemingly being driven mad by fighting in the Vietnam War. Cage then flashes back to their boyhood, where Birdy, a canary aficionado, was considered the school weirdo but managed to be a solid companion nonetheless. Directed by Alan Parker, it works best as a coming-of-age story, but misses the bizarre psychological transferences of the book, in which Birdy imagines himself within the world of canaries he creates in his bedroom at his parents' house. Modine is fine as an out-of-it misfit enraptured by his own little universe. --Marshall Fine

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