Netflix's latest original film stars Naomi Watts as Sam Bloom, a woman who suffers a tragic accident while on vacation with her family that leaves her permanently unable to walk. Sam struggles with how much her life has changed since the accident, until a sick bird winds up on her family's doorstep, changing their lives forever. It's a touching story, made even more powerful by that fact that Penguin Bloom is based on a true story.
The film is based on a bestselling book from Cameron Bloom (Sam's husband) and Bradley Trevor Greive. In it, Cameron chronicles the deep depression his wife fell into after her accident and the ways in which nursing an injured magpie back to health in turn helped her heal.
Sam was an instrumental part of the book's creation, and the film's as well. Sam even served as an executive producer on the movie. Speaking with NPR, Watts shared how Bloom was key to her development of the role. "We just spent lots of time on the phone, FaceTiming, talking about her journey of recovery," Watts told the outlet. "She couldn't have been more generous with her time. And when she could tell that I was really digging deeper and deeper, she actually said, 'Do you want to just read my journals?'"
And while her husband was the one who wrote Penguin Bloom, Sam has also taken to the written word to share her own story. Writing for TIME in 2017, Bloom recalls the chilling accident that changed her and her family's lives (which happened while she and her husband were gazing out at a view of the area around their hotel). "At some point," she wrote, "I leaned against the safety barrier that ran along the observation deck. The barrier simply fell away from the deck and I fell with it, crashing onto the unyielding blue tiles twenty feet below."
Though Penguin Bloom, which is out on Netflix now, begins with Sam's tragedy — it's just the beginning of this moving portrait of resilience.