The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt

  • Alexander SkarsgårdJesse Eisenberg...
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  • Kim Nguyen
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The Hummingbird Project: Based on a True Story?

Filmmakers realise that audiences relate more to films that are true stories, which is why so many films now claim their movies are based on real-life events. The Hummingbird Project is one of those films that claim to be based on a true story, but actually is not.

The Hummingbird Project follows Vincent (Jesse Eisenberg) and his reserved, coding genius cousin Anton (Alexander Skarsgard) as they quit their jobs in stock trading to build a fibre optic line between Kansas and New Jersey, and become the creators of the fastest high-frequency trading line. Along the way, the pair have to face many surprises and obstacles.

Even though the feature seems like it’s based on a true story, it is entirely fictional. Its plot revolves around digging, coding, and tech, which may not be the most attractive core of a feature’s plot, but the filmmakers manage to keep the film interesting.

The pace of the plot may seem somewhat slow, but the subplots advance steadily and are delved into further alongside the main line of the digging process. This is where the characterisation happens and, even though it is not deep enough to have audiences get attached to the characters or greatly sympathise with them, it works to add dimension to an otherwise plain story.

However, The Hummingbird Project’s lack in characterisation leads to gaps that seemed stretched or uninteresting, as the audience is not as engaged with the characters as they could be. Indeed, the plot itself is not sufficient to hold the audience’s attention on its own.

The feature does attempt to add layers and depth, especially by the end of the second act and the entirety of its third one. There are several slow-motion moments, and metaphors containing deeper meanings about capitalism, power, and life. However, most of them seem like unfinished thoughts and are either too subtle or too rushed for them to resonate with audiences.

The filmmakers truly relied on the actors to keep the film interesting; Jesse Eisenberg gave a strong performance, especially in the second act where his character was suffering most. Eisenberg was able to take a socially awkward character and have him transform to become the most humane part of the film. Alexander Skarsgard was almost unrecognisable with his character’s looks and demeanour; Skarsgard showed impressive acting chops in his performance. That being said, his acting was over the top on several occasions to an extent where his character seemed somewhat cartoonish. Playing Vincent and Anton’s ex-boss, Salma Hayek was able to portray the firm, tough boss and powerhouse that her character was, but there are moments when Hayek took the whole “tough powerhouse” persona a bit too far, to the extent that her character seemed silly.

You’ll probably forget the technical aspects in the film within a couple of days of seeing it, but The Hummingbird Project’s meaningful moments, and mostly great acting, may get to you.

Like This? Try

The Social Network (2010), Jobs (2013), Molly's Game (2017).

360 Tip

Jesse Eisenberg memorized the entire script before recording started. This was confirmed by him and the director at the Toronto International Film Festival. The director also confirmed that the story was fictional but that it reflect advances in trading technology.

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