White Bird in a Blizzard (2014)

indexDirected by: Gregg Araki

Written by: Gregg Araki, based on the novel by Laura Kasischke

Kat Connors (Shailene Woodley) has a difficult relationship with her emotionally unstable, unhappily married mother, Eve (Eva Green). Forty-two years old, gorgeous, and desperately lonely, Eve yearns to be admired and desired, and she shows nothing but loathing for Kat’s affable, passive father, Brock (Christopher Meloni).

On the surface, Kat is indifferent when her mother disappears. Her life continues almost normally, hanging out with her two best friends and trying to rekindle the spark with her boyfriend Phil (Shiloh Fernandez), a dull-witted stoner whose only real appeal for Kat seems to be that he possesses a penis.

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Under the surface, however, her mother’s absence — along with unanswered questions about her disappearance — haunts Kat. A year later, as a college freshman returning home during break, she begins searching for answers.

This film offers several interesting themes, including an unhappy middle-aged woman’s sexual jealousy of her own daughter. If this aspect of the story had been handled subtly, it would have been interesting. Instead we get Eve’s wildly over-the-top behavior — flaunting herself and attacking her daughter. The mystery of the missing woman held my interest, but it led to a ridiculous conclusion.

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On the other hand, I liked Shailene Woodley’s performance. She has wonderful energy and she brought this character to life, with her brittle veneer of indifference shielding her loneliness and open wounds, her burgeoning sexuality, her studied boredom, and her childlike efforts to behave like an adult and assert her independence. This, for me, was the most interesting aspect of the film.

This movie was enjoyable, but ultimately underwhelming. With more subtlety in the onscreen relationships and a wholly different ending, it could have been a terrific film.

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