Saturday, April 11, 2015

Movie Review - White Bird in a Blizzard

White Bird in a Blizzard (2014)
Starring Shailene Woodley, Eva Green, Christopher Meloni, Shiloh Fernandez, Gabourey Sidibe, Thomas Jane, and Angela Bassett 
Directed by Gregg Araki
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***

I don't quite know if White Bird in a Blizzard was attempting to be an awful film on purpose, but director Gregg Araki certainly has crafted a film in which every character inhabiting it feels as if they are fake.  Actors are seemingly instructed to play their roles in an oddly one-note fashion, almost as if we're watching some crappy high school play unfold before our very eyes.  If you're angry, be really angry.  If you're sad, be really sad.  If you're sexually aroused, be really turned on.  By playing every emotion to the nth degree, no emotion rings true and White Bird in a Blizzard falls apart nearly from its first moments.

When Kat Conners (Shailene Woodley) is in her final year of high school, her mother Eve (Eva Green) goes missing.  Her father Brock (Christopher Meloni) is devastated, but Kat feels oddly unemotional about the whole disappearance.  Instead, she finds herself becoming more sexually awakened in the absence of her overbearing mother.  Jump to the spring of her first year in college and Kat returns home on spring break and she uncovers a few secrets regarding her family that maybe should never have been uncovered.

I've read two novels by Laura Kasischke whose book this film is based upon and I find her works oddly pulpy and somewhat silly in their mysteries.  White Bird in a Blizzard follows this same line and although she didn't write the screenplay, her tone runs throughout.  However, Mr. Araki who directed and also wrote the screenplay decides to embrace the pulp, but unlike film noirs in the past where the pulpy, seedy nature of their stories elevated the actors, Araki doesn't find that success here.

Shailene Woodley perhaps comes off best as her character is at least given a scale of emotions to play off of, but even she is playing things to extremes.  Worst by far is Eva Green.  Quite frankly, I'm not quite sure who to blame here.  Ms. Green has never been someone who I've looked at as a talented actress, but she's just laughably bad here.  That said, Araki writes her mother character as so oddly un-human with nary a recognizable characteristic that I wonder if Araki is truly the one at fault here.  Either way, this central character whom the whole story revolves around is an unmitigated disaster and sinks the movie.

The RyMickey Rating:  D-

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