As Penn straps her pearl detailed heels, and dons crystal studded shades, she leaves haughty instructions for Jean about the house. Find the right place for the flowers. Eat outside (smells linger). What, we are told, is a question, and what is a statement? Jean plumps the rich cushions, dolefully plays cello, and receives potential buyers of this striking modernist villa. Meanwhile, a splendid macaw sits in a cage, while a hulking tortoise mooches in the back garden.
HOUSE COMES WITH A BIRD, directed by Janicza Bravo, is the 23rd commission from Miu Miu Women’s Tales. The acclaimed short-film series invites today’s most profound and original female directors to investigate vanity and femininity in the 21st century.
Janicza Bravo (b.1981) is an American film director, film producer and screenwriter. Her films include Gregory Go Boom, a winner of the short-film jury award at the Sundance Film Festival; Lemon, co-written with Brett Gelman; and Zola, co-written with playwright Jeremy O. Harris, based on an infamous viral 148-tweet thread, nominated for the Grand Jury Award at Sundance Film Festival in 2020 and led the 2022 Independent Spirit Awards with seven nominations including Best Feature.
House Comes with a Bird features singer and cellist Kelsey Lu as Jean; Russian Doll star Natasha Lyonne as Penn; The Mandalorian lead Pedro Pascal as Nico; The World to Come actress Katherine Waterston as Ruth; and Never Have I Ever actress Poorna Jagannathan as Langley.
“I love making short films,” says Bravo. “I find them a great place to explore and play. For me, working in short film is like going back to theatre school.” Bravo explains how, in many films, “sometimes narrative can cannibalize clothing… [There isn’t] room for the soul.” Bravo’s approach to her Miu Miu Women’s Tales was, “a marriage of text and beautiful clothing. I wanted it to feel incredibly effortless.”
There’s an airy, languid mood in House Comes with a Bird. It’s quintessentially late afternoon Californian sun. The eponymous house — luxurious, mid-century, open plan — gently hosts a number of clipped social encounters. Each of these denotes dynamics of power in race, gender and class. While it’s the macaw that seems ostensibly and literally caged, Bravo’s drama of manners suggests that every single one of us may not be quite as uncaged as we assume.
Janicza Bravo’s new episode for Women’s Tales was premiered in Los Angeles on March 23rd, 2022. The short is afterwards available on Miu Miu digital channels. From March 28th, HOUSE COMES WITH A BIRD will be available to stream on MUBI globally.