Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Directed by: Gregg Araki
Starring: Shailene Woodley, Eva Green, Shiloh Fernandez, Christopher Meloni
Gregg Araki’s White Bird in a Blizzard is a perfectly pristine piece of work, beautifully shot by cinematographer Sandra Valde-Hansen, conveying its story of the fallacy of the American suburban malaise and one girl’s attempt to adjust to life in the aftermath of her mother’s disappearance. But, much like the characters that populate the film, it’s a dull affair, severely lacking any sort of compelling bone or depth beyond its shiny, pristine surface.
One of the biggest crimes that Araki’s film commits is that everything in Blizzard feels utterly safe. Unlike the more risqué, ambitious and altogether more captivating samplings that Araki offered us with films such as Mysterious Skin and the wonderfully bizarre Kaboom, it feels as if the director is playing everything decidedly bland with Blizzard. It has an intriguing set up, as Shailene Woodley’s young Kat struggles to get to grips and adjust to life following the mysterious disappearance of her mother, but once the script flashes back, it becomes difficult to latch onto anything tangible or compelling.
Everything feels familiar, with ideas and themes that have been revisited time and time again. Instead of a fresh plot, we get blistering “revelations” that the bored housewife is more bored than usual and that not all is as cozy and colorful beneath the surface.
Such things would be less of an issue if our leading lady was in the least bit interesting. Unfortunately, Shailene Woodley is as bland and dull as her character. Barely altering her facial expressions, Kat is neither interesting nor compelling enough to sustain the film’s narrative. She remains static throughout, her mother’s disappearance barely affecting her actions. In some cases, this might allow for some interesting dynamics, but the script is so dull, peppered throughout with lashings of Kat’s overbearing and self-indulgent voiceover, that by the halfway point it all becomes infuriating.
Not all is lost however. Eva Green is wonderfully playful as Eve, whose sanity is gradually reaching its threshold, and there’s no denying that Araki has a beautifully restrained visual eye, capturing the coldness and falseness of Kat’s parents’ world with remarkable ability.
But apart from the usual Araki flourishes, White Bird in a Blizzard is a depressingly mundane affair, lacking in the usual risk taking and visual vibrancy that one comes to expect from Araki.