UK Release Date: 6th March 2015
Runtime: 91 minutes
Director: Gregg Araki
Writer: Gregg Araki
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Eva Green, Christopher Meloni, Shiloh Fernandez, Thomas Jane, Gabourey Sidibe
Synopsis: A lusty adolescent struggles to unravel the reasons behind her mother’s disappearance as she battles with her own coming of age.
Based on a mystery novel, White Bird in a Blizzard is a film every bit as beguiling and frustrating as its title. It does, however, mark a mature and interesting role for Divergent star Shailene Woodley, who is currently positioning herself as one of this generation’s most exciting acting talents.
Kat (Woodley) returns home one day at the age of 17 to find that her mother Eve (Eva Green) has disappeared without her trace. With the help of her taciturn father Brock (Christopher Meloni) and kind-but-dim boyfriend Phil (Shiloh Fernandez), Kat must come to terms with the loss of her parent, whilst also exploring her feelings for the detective assigned to the case (Thomas Jane).
In its early stages, White Bird in a Blizzard is an incredibly interesting film, which does a great job of establishing its mystery. There’s an intriguing, offbeat feeling to the film’s universe, particularly aided by Eva Green’s ethereal performance. It’s entirely believable that she could be the kind of person to simply walk out of her life.
| "Just as I was becoming nothing but my body – flesh, blood and raging hormones – she stepped out of hers and left it behind."
Green, though, plays second fiddle to Shailene Woodley. Between the Divergent franchise and her stunning performance in teen weepie The Fault in Our Stars, Woodley is developing into an incredibly diverse performer. White Bird in a Blizzard sees her work with more mature, symbolic material and she rises to the occasion. Woodley rises above the standard moody, hormonal teen to give a performance of emotional complexity. She has Oscars in her future, without a shadow of a doubt.
Outside of those two performances, White Bird in a Blizzard is a rather shallow movie. It’s clear relatively early on that the film is more interested in character than anything else, but few outside of Woodley and Green are in any way intriguing. Thomas Jane’s macho cop serves little purpose other than to provide a torso for Woodley to rest on and Christopher Meloni seems unsure where to pitch his performance as the father.
The plot meanders along without much revelation until the third act, in which the single most conventional explanation possible begins to unfold. By the time the crucial missing detail is revealed in a climactic flashback sequence, it’s such a ridiculous twist that it undercuts a lot of the drama that came before it.
| "You look like I looked when I was you."
There’s plenty of interesting pieces in play for White Bird in a Blizzard, but ultimately there’s too much sizzle and not enough steak. The central performances are stellar and Gregg Araki’s dreamlike direction gives the film an off-kilter tone. Unfortunately, though, the plot collapses under its own weight as it nears its conclusion, leaving disappointment behind.
Pop or Poop?
Shailene Woodley continues to showcase her impressive ability in White Bird in a Blizzard, alongside a game Eva Green, but the rest of the film never matches their work.
The central mystery quickly loses momentum, leaving behind dull tertiary characters who eventually give way to a ridiculous plot twist. There’s potential here, but it’s never met.
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