It's a quietly moving coming-of-age tale about a 10-year-old boy, Jojo (Rick Lens), from a troubled home where his mother isn't around, and his father (Loek Peters), is an unstable man prone to violent outbursts. One day in the woods, he comes across an abandoned baby jackdaw, and after failing to return it to its nest, he brings it home to care for it, and develops an immediate bond with the creature.
There's a captivating lead perfomance from young Lens, who maintains a delicate balance between being an angry mischievous loner, and an endearing delicate child having to grow up too quickly. While the story is a raw and deeply personal one, perhaps slightly predictable and unfolds without much surprise, but is always genuine and without pretense.
It's also shot with an interesting visual style to help us get into Jojo's headspace. Daniel Bouquet's handheld camera is often kept very close to him, but never in an obtrusive way, always giving us a clear look at the expression on his face or his interactions with the bird; and there are other stylistic moments like slow motion and even a few instances where the image is frozen in place, but Koole gets it right as the tone of these are never heavy handed.
This one's a great little bittersweet piece worth seeking out. It's probably too slight to get much notice from The Academy, but its still a strong debut that marks a promising start for both Koole and Lens.
A great, simple story, fantastic acting by everyone involved, touching, emotional and - as mentioned before - just human. That factor makes the best films.