US release Date: 25 September 2014
Running time: 91 min.
Genres: Thriller, Drama
Director: Gregg Araki
Writers: Gregg Araki
Stars: Shailene Woodley, Eva Green, Christopher Meloni, Shiloh Fernandez, Gabourey Sidibe, Mark Indelicato, Thomas Jane, Angela Bassett
Based off the novel by Laura Kasischke of the same name, White Bird In A Blizzard tells the story of Kat Connors (Shailene Woodley) who’s mother, Eve (Eva Green) disappears one afternoon in 1988. Eve slowly starts to become a ghostly existence in Kat’s life, always haunting her with questions as to why her mother suddenly was there one minute and gone the next. She starts to become fragments of memory that Kat is holding on to and is left wondering, why did Eve really leave?
Just like in the novel, the film is told from Kat’s perspective of her mother and the relationship her mother has with her father, Brock (Christopher Meloni). To Kat, she sees a woman who never loved her husband and sneers at his mere prescience, a woman who possibly even detests the life she shares with her family. Eve becomes a mystery to us just as she has become a mystery to Kat. We are left wanting to know more, possibly just as much as her daughter is left wanting to know. It’s clear from the beginning that Eve’s mental state is starting to break down, leading its way to depression. Is it because of the same daily routine she faces? Or is there something more going on that one is unaware of? While she may treat Kat unfair at times, she does love her daughter. Because of her mothers back and forth mental state, Kat starts to grow resentful towards her, and at times, she can be unlikable herself.
White Bird in a Blizzard is shrouded with questions (and a mild amount of mystery) which all lead back to Eve and even to her husband at times, Brock. Only a few of those questions are given the answers to while most are never answered, making her (and him) even more mysterious than at the begging of the film, and making it a little maddening since you really do want to know what made this woman slowly start to lose herself. Since the film is told from Kat’s perspective, we are seeing her view of her parents. Her view of her mother who seems absent and her father who she sees as a passive-aggressive person. But is he really? Having gone into this without fully reading the book first, I don’t exactly know if it goes into more detail on her parents unlike the film has. Who we do get a good grasp on though is Kat. We get to know her personality and thought process as she grows from a rebellious teenager and into a young woman by the end.
Through-out the story, it’s narrated in parts by Kat like in the novel, which I really like. Sometimes with a heavy narration it can get lost along the way but with White Bird in a Blizzard it succeeds. We get to hear Kat’s inner opinions on her life, parents, best friends and boyfriend, Phil (Shiloh Fernandez) who has an extreme lack of ambition and is not the brightest bulb in the bunch and is the complete opposite of Kat. He’s another character who Kat seems to not really know when it comes to Phil’s private life. The only real stability when it comes to Kat’s relationships with people are her two best friends, even though we never really get to know a whole lot about them.
When it comes to White Bird in a Blizzard’s setting, which takes place around the late 80’s, you can actually get a sense of that through the clothing, set designs and locations. I have seen a lot of movies in the past which take place around the 80’s and really fail at capturing that time with clothing, sets and other small things. However with this film that is not the case and we even get a glimpse of it transitioning into the early 90’s. Another one of the films strong points is the music, which fits perfectly into this setting that has been built.
Acting wise, I liked seeing Shailene Woodley in such an adult roll since most of the things I have seen her in she plays the girl next door. Woodley and Green were two of my favorite performers here, especially Green who has to carry some heavy emotions throughout the story. One minute you see her character smiling and laughing and then the next she’s weeping or arguing with someone. It’s a roller coaster of emotions and Green is able to pull it off well.
White Bird In a Blizzard brings in all sorts of elements, Kat’s youthfulness, passion, loss of innocence, a sort of coming of age story while still being a mystery with thriller elements. It’s these reasons that it’s able to hold my interest and kept me wondering about these characters and who they really are underneath. The only real draw back I did have was wanting to know more about Kat’s parents and even her boyfriend when it came to what was going on behind closed doors. Yes, we are shown a glimpse but It left me wanting to know more. With those slight faults, it’s a solid film with great acting by it’s leads and is worth a watch.