In the upcoming film Penguin Bloom, Naomi Watts and Andrew Lincoln play a young couple whose lives are upheaved when Sam (Watts) suffers a near-fatal accident and is unable to walk.
As their three sons and Sam’s mother (Aussie screen legend Jacki Weaver) attempt to adjust to their “new normal,” an injured baby magpie comes into their life and slowly starts to help the family heal.
The film is based on the incredible true story of the Bloom family, who nursed the magpie they named Penguin back to health at the most traumatic time of their lives.
Sam Bloom was on holiday with her family in Thailand when she fell two stories, suffering severe head injuries and a shattered spine. Doctors said the young mother would never walk again. After seven months in hospital, Sam was able to return home but was deeply and understandably depressed.
The family found Penguin as a tiny, scruffy chick who herself had fallen around 20 metres out of her nest and needed immediate care – which the Bloom’s gave her.
Speaking to The Guardian in 2016, Cameron Bloom said, “During this time Penguin bonded with every member of the family, but her relationship with Sam was special. It was clear there was a connection between them that, perhaps because of their mutual need for extra care, forged a deep and lasting bond.”
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For Sam, Penguin proved to be the most unlikely of confidantes as she found herself saying things to the bird she couldn’t otherwise articulate.
Said Sam in an interview with Mammamia, “I spoke to her about how much I hated this, with what had happened. I felt bad for Cam because he had so much to deal with; obviously with me and looking after the kids and work too. So I didn’t want to constantly complain to him. So I would just complain to Penguin instead.”
The incredible story was first published as a book in 2016. The film version — which was actually filmed on location at the Bloom’s house in Newport on Sydney’s Northern Beaches — will be released in cinemas on January 21, 2021.
For Sam, who has never been able to walk again, her family’s story is one of love, hope and determination — themes she says the film has captured brilliantly.
As for the fate of Penguin Bloom and her life after rehabilitation? You’ll have to find out at the movies, but you can watch the trailer below.