Michael Dirda at The Washington Post:
“There were short days in winter when the City seemed to glitter with half-revealed secrets. Days when it rained steadily; when lights were lit early in shops and offices; when the shining streets were domed by the humps of glossy umbrellas. On such days a common goodwill seemed to fall naturally from harassed people, hurrying here and there to catch bus, train, or tram. In face of discomfort, a vision of home, with firelight, tabby-cats, and rich cups of mellow tea, seemed to buoy up men and women.”
As the summer heat continues, our hero escapes to Wales for a short holiday, then later returns to London and falls in love with a young but preternaturally wise Russian woman. Meanwhile, like ghosts or diabolical guardian angels, the now ubiquitous “pests of the air” have grown increasingly menacing. More and more often, an individual bird will suddenly imprint on a single person and never let him or her out of sight, always fluttering nearby. People go mad or commit suicide. Sometimes they are found savagely clawed and pecked to death. Inexorably, “The Birds” builds to a spectacular, cinematic finale, half holocaust, half apocalypse.