‘White Bird in a Blizzard’ Movie Review – Good on Paper
Nowadays, the phrase “good on paper” must apply to every single movie made in Hollywood (I’d argue that phrase is about the only thing that matters but that’s a discussion for another time). Gregg Araki’s (Kaboom) White Bird in a Blizzard, although more of an indie film than a huge production, is a classic example of why “good on paper” doesn’t mean it’s necessarily going to work out. The movie has a tried and trusted cast, decent premise, and dependable genre only to end up with a subpar final product.
White Bird in a Blizzard is a drama-thriller based on Laura Kasichke’s novel of the same name. In a sentence, the movie is about a girl, Kat (Shailene Woodley) whose life is turned upside-down when her mother (Eva Green) disappears.
In a paragraph, White Bird in a Blizzard is about a culmination of things. There’s an unhappy marriage between man (Christopher Meloni) and wife. There’s a girl in the peak of her maturity without a motherly figure. But most of all, there’s something off about the story. Deceit, jealousy, and everything-in-between could be to blame.
I preferred the paragraph description of the film heading into the movie. Not just because it sounds like a synopsis you’d find when browsing Netflix on a rainy Thursday night either.
White Bird in a Blizzard all but promises to be a stylistic thriller. I get that marketing and these adjective-laced synopses are specifically designed to get people interested in seeing the film. In fact, I somehow got Winter’s Bone vibes before catching this film. However, in this case the marketing is more deceitful than the actual film.
In the end, we’re left with a thriller that isn’t a thriller (save, maybe, five minutes near the climax) filled with shallow characters and, perhaps most disappointing, shallow performances.
Eva Green is coming off huge performances. She’s made a habit of carrying subpar films (I’m looking at you Dark Shadows, 300: Rise of an Empire, and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For) into becoming, at the very least, notable. Maybe her character is more to blame in this instance, but Green is more a distraction than anything else.
Shailene Woodley, too, has turned into a juggernaut of sorts. Both her other film adaptations this year have shown her range (although I didn’t particularly care for Divergent). Again, in this movie I’m not sure whether to knock her or her character because Kat is neither a character worth building a story around nor investing time in.
This could’ve all been alleviated had the resolution been worked out. The first two acts may stink to high heaven but I won’t pretend I was falling asleep near the climax. I was still excited (or maybe “looking forward” is a better term) to see how the story tied everything up.
Unfortunately, my excitement was swiftly brushed away at an anticlimactic finale that totally undoes any of the tension that was somehow built.
I tend to gravitate to certain movies and I’d consider thrillers to be right near the top of my list. With a cast that included Shailene Woodley and Eva Green with a premise that had the potential to explore some sticky psychological situations, how could I not see White Bird in a Blizzard? It’s obvious now just how wrong I was.
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