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Every Little Thing Review: Nature at its Best

a hummingbird flies with sparkles of light around it in the film Every Little Thing

Every Little Thing is a stunning exploration of one of the world’s most delicate birds and the life of a rehabilitator who nurses each back to life.

“Maybe that’s the reason that I came to the hummingbirds. You come ready made with the empathy. You don’t need to develop it; it’s already there because of your own struggles,” states Terry Masear in Sally Aitken’s Every Little Thing. The documentary, which had its Texas premiere at the SXSW film festival and debuted at Sundance earlier this year, follows hummingbird rehabilitator Masear, a selfless, empathetic savior who, for the last eighteen years, has dedicated her life to nursing injured hummingbirds back to life out of her scenic Los Angeles home. But what starts off as a lighthearted car ride between Masear and one of the hummingbirds she is nurturing turns into a much deeper analysis of the woman behind these delicate, fascinating winged beings.

As a child, Masear was a victim of abuse. She recounts reaching her teen years and sensing something was amiss. Thereafter, she suffered from addiction. However, later in life, she found her husband, Frank, and the pair would share many happy years together before his passing. As a widow, Masear found her calling as a selfless healer for wounded hummingbirds. Her caring disposition and relenting dedication are incontestable from the moment we are introduced to her. This is accompanied by her vulnerability when sharing the challenges she faced during her upbringing, allowing her courage and strength to shine through.

While spending more time with the hummingbird rehabilitator, Masear highlights that though humans and birds are different species, each is just as fragile as the other, and we share commonalities. During a moving moment, Masear proclaims, “In my mind, all the things that you see with these birds, it’s all that we’ve gone through. Their struggles, their deaths, their successes.” The comparisons drawn between animals and humans in Every Little Thing are thought-provoking and deepen our connection with them as we acknowledge that we aren’t so different after all.

a hummingbird flies with sparkles of light around it in the film Every Little Thing
Every Little Thing (Wildbear Entertainment, Dogwoof and HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, SXSW 2024)

Throughout Every Little Thing’s runtime, viewers are introduced to various injured hummingbirds in desperate need of care. It’s indisputable how much love and passion Masear has for every tiny creature that enters her home, each treated like family and given a name. Yet, the job certainly comes with challenges, especially when some of the delicate creatures perish. However, Masear’s relenting patience and compassion serve as a beacon of hope and motivation throughout the healing process.

The cinematography in Every Little Thing is breathtaking, displaying the delicate lives of hummingbirds and the beauty of their existence. Throughout the documentary, various slow-motion shots capture various colors and sizes of these delicate beings suspended in mid-flight. As the camera lingers and the background blurs, viewers are reminded just how much Aitken wants the audience to engross themselves in the spectacle and admire the subject. From their speedy fluttering wings to their graceful posture, the observational experience elicits feelings of bliss and peace while you’re in awe of how truly remarkable and unique hummingbirds are.

At the end of Every Little Thing, Masear says, “Our curse as humans is that we need to know that we matter, that the things we do matter.” After watching this heartwarming documentary, I think we can all agree that Masear’s rehabilitation and advocacy for hummingbirds matter tremendously.

Every Little Thing was screened at SXSW on March 10-12, 2024. Read our SXSW reviews!

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