It’s rude to ask Danny what he went to prison for. Instead let’s concentrate on the fact that he’s out, and he’s trying to put his life back together. He’s staying in a motel run by a single mother, and her daughter. He’s washing dishes in a Chinese restaurant. He’s seeing his parole officer every day. He’s getting by by keeping mostly to himself, which is how he prefers it. Too bad things just couldn’t stay quiet.
Clara, the daughter at the motel, is ripe for a new friend. Her own father is in jail and she hasn’t seen him in a long time. When she gets assaulted one night while her mother is away, Danny kind of gets pulled into a scrape that he can’t really afford to be involved in, but can’t seem to avoid either. Now the motel is not the refuge he was hoping for and he’s awfully tempted to resort to his old methods for dealing with this kind of crap.
A Bluebird in My Heart, in many ways, is asking us whether a person’s nature can really change. Peace and violence will clash, as they must, in a movie that looks as dirty as it feels. Danny (Roland Møller) is an elusive character; a tough exterior shell with a vague interior and mysterious past. Our biggest and best clue to what makes him tick is the Charles Bukowski poem after which the movie is titled. “There’s a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I’m too tough for him, I say, stay in there, I’m not going to let anybody see you.” We never fully see Danny, but we do have a front seat for his actions, and the consequences of those actions. It’s not a pretty sight necessarily, but it’s a strength of the script that we don’t have to know him to know him. He’s got anger and pain and he tries really hard to bury them, perhaps in the bluebird’s nest, but once unleashed, well, he becomes a pretty powerful outlet. Danny wrestles with his innermost self, with his nature, with his destiny. For a movie about a violent, hardened criminal, it’s actually quite quiet and contemplative, but when the action ramps up, well, the outbursts are intense. So be prepared, and watch out for the little bird.