White Bird in a Blizzard

Movie Review #956


Internet release on September 25, 2014. Limited release on October 24, 2014. Drama/Mystery/Thriller. This film is rated R for sexual content/nudity, language and some drug use. Runs 91 minutes. A French-American co-production. Directed by Gregg Araki. Screenplay by Gregg Araki. Based on the novel by Laura Kasischke. Cast: Shailene Woodley, Eva Green, Christopher Meloni, Shiloh Fernandez, Angela Bassett, Gabourey Sidibe, Ava Acres, Thomas Jane, Mark Indelicato, Dale Dickey, and Sheryl Lee.


By Alexander Diminiano

“White Bird in a Blizzard” starts out as an interesting movie. It hooks us with its purely avant-garde nature. The story here is told on two separate levels here. One is the story in its natural state; the other, a surreal recount. It transforms the movie into something deceptively simple.

As it turns out, this movie is simple, in more than just one sense of the word. As the story goes on, “White Bird” becomes hokier. Director Gregg Araki can’t seem to take the arthouse genre seriously, even if he’s worked with it for over a decade. The surreal side of the storytelling spectrum in “White Bird” simply does not exist without explanation, which I suppose takes away the idea of it being “surreal” to begin with. Every dreamlike moment in the film, Araki forces to represent a literal dream that the film’s female protagonist (Shailene Woodley) has during the night, or when this lazy teenager falls asleep during the middle of the day with nothing better to do. In case I haven’t put it bluntly enough, Araki screws up his movie by turning its most awesomely creative, mind-warpingly stylish moments into tired Hollywood clichés.

The film concerns a teenage girl who spends as long as a year trying to figure out what could possibly account for her mother’s disappearance. She’s also played quite marvelously by Shailene Woodley, and additionally, she has quite a lot of sex. But I guess that’s beside the point, and I guess all those sex scenes were only there to distract our attention away from the increasingly predictable plot. I mean, we stay with the plot because we know that the mother was either kidnapped or murdered (but I won’t spoil which), and we know who kidnapped or murdered her, but we can’t quite say why.

But still, this girl has a lot of sex. She’s 17 when she screws her boyfriend just about every day. They don’t actually hang out otherwise, which is strange, if you ask me. Then she turns 18 and decides to screw some adult because that’s legal now for her. I think it might’ve been her teacher, but “White Bird in a Blizzard” isn’t memorable enough for me to remember very much of the story. I think the girl’s name was Kat, because her mother liked cats. Other than that, this movie was just as much a mess as I gather this review is.

As I was saying, we can’t quite tell why the kidnapping/murder happened. What was the motive? we wonder throughout the whole movie. We shouldn’t care so much. Not because the mother is an uninteresting character, but because the apparent motive proves to be very, very dumb. It’s shoved into the last five minutes here; it’s as if Araki suddenly thought, “Golly, did I forget to tell the viewer why this kidnapping/murder took place?” I can imagine how it went from there. Araki sits down at his desk for five minutes and pencils in the next scene. A twist ending that is as dumb as it is ineffective. Araki is known primarily for making dramas about homosexuals, and not until this sudden ending do we even begin to recall that bulk of his career. It was a terrible ending, and to be clear, I make that statement not out of homophobia but out of impromptufinalephobia. As you might guess, that’s the fear or hatred of sudden, illogical endings. If I’m giving Gregg Araki any points for “White Bird”, it’s for his two-pointer when he threw all logic right into the trash.


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