Magazine article Screen International

White Bird in A Blizzard

Magazine article Screen International

White Bird in A Blizzard

Article excerpt

Dir/scr: Gregg Araki. 2014. US. 91mins

A sexual coming-of-age story, family melodrama and murder mystery rolled into one, Gregg Araki's latest is a strange hodgepodge. If it weren't for the strong screen presence and grounded emotional performance by Shailene Woodley, White Bird In A Blizzard could have been a disaster. But thanks to the rising young actress, the film is an intermittently intriguing and haunting affair.

For all of the film's surrealism, Woodley lends a powerful emotional reality to the proceedings.

US theatrical prospects are likely dim, but the film's sexy and lurid touches could give it a boost on VOD and other home viewing platforms. International audiences may be more forgiving of the film's tonal oddities.

Lacking the wacky, campy humour that has defined Araki's more entertaining outings (Kaboom, Smiley Face), White Bird In A Blizzard finds the director on more serious ground. Adapted from the novel by Laura Kasischke (whose Suspicious River made for another racy female-centered film), the story begins in 1988 with the mysterious disappearance of mother and wife Eve Connor (Green).

While husband Brock (Meloni) is completely distraught, stuck in a kind of perpetual state of shock, her teenage daughter Kat (Woodley) isn't particularly surprised by her mom's absence. Through flashbacks narrated by Kat, we learn that Eve was unsatisfied with her marriage and domestic life and had become increasingly unhinged, looking enviously upon her daughter's youth and lusting after her boyfriend-next-door.

As Kat tries to understand what happened to her mother, she is also coming-of-age sexually. The two, in fact, are intertwined--as she says at one point, "My virginity disappeared, just like my mother."

Araki fans may be pleased by the director's trademark pop visual design--bright greens make a strong appearance--and stylized 1980s settings and music (from Depeche Mode to The Cure). …

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