White Bird in a Blizzard, 2015.
Directed by Gregg Araki.
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Eva Green, Thomas Jane, Christopher Meloni, Shiloh Fernandez, Gabourey Sidibe and Mark Indelicato.
It’s 1988 and Kat Connors is trying to discover her sexual identity. During the same time, her mother disappears without a trace, turning her life upside down.
I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed. A line handed down by parents, teachers, significant others and now me. White Bird in a Blizzard is not infuriating, however it’s incredibly disappointing.
It’s not infuriating simply due to the fact the movie never achieves anything more than mediocrity and although you scoff and tut, you never really care enough to be enraged.
I’ve followed Shailene Woodley’s career since The Descendants. Both The Spectacular Now and The Fault in Our Stars ended up in my “Best of the Year” lists. Here, her considerable talents are completely wasted. Take the narration that guides us along, meandering its way through plot points with characters only included to further the story. You have Kat’s friends, Beth and Mickey (Gabourey Sidibe and Mark Indelicato) who pop up when a story thread has to be revealed or for inane chats about sexual conquests.
Throughout its thankfully short (91 minutes) running time there’s moments that caused an audible laugh during the screening I attended. These were more a reaction to the paper-thin dialogue than intentional jokes. A scene between Kat (Woodley) and Detective Scieziesciez, (Thomas Jane) who’s assigned to her mother’s case plays out like a $2 porn remake of The Graduate.
Eva Green’s portrayal of the increasingly unhinged mother hits a ten quickly in the form of Bulging eyes, screams and questioning the bedroom performance of her Daughter’s boyfriend (Shiloh Fernandez). After this, there’s nowhere to go but down.
The movie moves towards mystery within the latter half. Kat returns home from college years later, triggering a series of convenient chats, each more predictable than the last. This culminates into a clichéd scene in the basement that has you longing for its mundane first half.
Although buried deeper than its emotional centre, aspects like crisp and vibrant framing accompanied by a melody of 80’s track for its soundtrack save it from being a complete disaster. The dream sequences also provide an interesting and creatively absurd take on the subconscious of our lead. Finally, Christopher Meloni’s take on the sad sack father in the first hour is one of the few performances that work.
The line “Scratch the surface and there’s only more surface” mentioned by Kat, ironically and perfectly describes White Bird in a Blizzard’s main problem. We have no real depth to the characters, themes or storyline to cling to. A coming-of-age story that will come and go.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★/ Movie: ★
Gary McCurry – Follow me on Twitter