White Bird in a Blizzard

Posted by November 4, 2014

Try as it might, "White Bird in a Blizzard" suffers from a distinct lack of consequence. It might sound like a cop-out to begin a review this way, but it's just unavoidable that nothing in this movie resonates beyond a few good performances, another downright inexplicable one, and a sometimes-experimental, mostly predictable narrative that tries to trick us into some sort of inflated surprise and catharsis that is never really earned. It's a well-made but static experience that never reaches the level of devastation found in quiet, suburban life that populates so many great films of previous years. Instead, it approaches utter anonymity.

Eve Connor (Eva Green, who gives the aforementioned, inexplicably oddball performance that never truly finds its voice) has gone missing, and husband Brock (Christopher Meloni) and daughter Kat (Shailene Woodley) are left to deal with it. Kat deals with it through denial that is rather alarming, even as Eve never really seemed to like her. Her therapist (Angela Bassett, who is so unimportant to the proceedings she might as well not exist) voices the usual concern, but best friends Beth (Gabourey Sidibe) and the ultra-gay Mickey (Mark Indelicato) seem really to care about her well-being, and boyfriend Phil (Shiloh Fernandez) hints that Brock knows more than he is letting on.

The performances are solid, at least, with only Green offering up a big bowl of "WTF?" As Kat, Woodley, one of the current generation's more promising new actresses, is effective at selling the reckless-teenager thing and shares chemistry with Fernandez' Phil. Meloni gives a touching performance as Brock, on whose shoulders the burden of guilt certainly falls before film's end. Sidibe and Indelicato offer a solid support for Kat as Beth and Mickey. Even Thomas Jane, whose Det. Scieziesciez begins an illicit affair with the underage Kat, is a nice addition. It's also attractively shot by cinematographer Sandra Valde-Hansen. But the only thing that isn't made quite obvious by the twenty-minute mark is the ultimate motivation behind a certain, irreparable act, and when that is solved, all that is truly elicited is a shrug.

Film Information

Shailene Woodley (Kat Connor), Eva Green (Eve Connor), Christopher Meloni (Brock Connor), Thomas Jane (Det. Scieziesciez), Angela Bassett (Dr. Thaler), Shiloh Fernandez (Phil), Gabourey Sidibe (Beth), Mark Indelicato (Mickey), Dale Dickey (Mrs. Hillman), Sheryl Lee (May), Ava Acres (Younger Kat).

Directed and written by Gregg Araki, based on the novel by Laura Kasischke.

Rated R (sexual content/nudity, language, drug use).

91 minutes.

Released in select cities on October 24, 2014.