White Bird in a Blizzard

Directed by Gregg Araki
Starring Shailene Woodley, Eva Green, Christopher Meloni, Shiloh Fernandez, Gabourey Sidibe, Mark Indelicato, Thomas Jane and Angela Bassett
In UK Cinemas March 6th, 2015

by Joanna Orland

The year is 1988.  Kat Connors (Shailene Woodley) is 17 years old when her mother Eve (Eva Green) goes missing.  Struggling with her own coming-of-age, Kat seems completely unfazed by her mother’s absence and seems to think her father (Christopher Meloni) is better off without her.  As time passes, Kat finds the need to come to terms with her mother’s vanishing.  The story is predominantly told through therapy sessions and flashbacks, edited to a dreamlike music score, peppered with an iconic late 80’s / early 90’s soundtrack.

Kat’s mother Eve is the classic bored housewife archetype, filling herself with more booze as each day passes, unsatisfied by her sex life and wifely chores.  When she goes missing, most people at first assume that she’s merely had enough and left her life behind.  Eve’s daughter Kat is a two-dimensional suburbanite teen who drinks beer with her friends (Precious and Ugly Betty‘s nephew), with stunted dialogue written by someone who clearly doesn’t remember what it was like to be a teenager.  They drink, dance and gossip primarily about Kat’s love life which consists of shagging the very dumb next door neighbour Phil, as well as a way-too-old detective who should be investigating her mom’s disappearance rather than her breasts.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen teenagers so unnecessarily hypersexualized in a film before.  It was neither sexy nor insightful and served very little purpose except to heighten the cringe factor of this film.

The main non-cringe factor of this film is its stylization.  The soundtrack is mesmerizing and the visuals rather fascinating, in spite of being caricature.  Most of the acting is laughable, primarily due to the shallow script and lack of character development outside of the clichéd archetypes, but what stands out amongst the dreck is Shailene Woodley.  Even in a film that induces apathy, Woodley gives a solid performance and solidifies her place in Hollywood as the next Jennifer Lawrence.

White Bird in a Blizzard is never quite sure of itself or what it’s trying to achieve.  Is it a coming-of-age film, a whodunnit mystery, or an erotic thriller?  From my point of view, it is just a camp stylization of utter nonsense with a fantastic soundtrack and solid lead performance.

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