' ' Cinema Romantico: White Bird in a Blizzard

Thursday, December 04, 2014

White Bird in a Blizzard

In a year when megawatt talent Shailene Woodley has already convincingly gone dystopian and brought a beloved youth adult novel heroine to life where else was there for her to go but back to the 80's in a Gregg Araki-styled DeLorean? And even if she was born in 1991, and even if "White Bird in a Blizzard" often feels more like a Hal Hartley film in the haze of Kurt Cobain's suicide than a frivolous yet poignant John Hughes affair, Shailene still knows how to wear a Depeche Mode t-shirt and strike a disaffected pose. In fact, her disaffected pose while picking at a pint of ice cream in the film's earliest going is The Disaffected Pose of the Year.

That pose happens immediately after Woodley's Kat Connor learns her mother, Eve (Eva Green), has been reported missing by her father, Brock (Christopher Meloni), a man who acts and speaks like he's persistently inside a library. He seems shell-shocked by his bride's disappearance, as if he expects her never to return, whereas his daughter seems, well, disaffected by her mom's disappearance, as if she expects her to come loping back in any old time. Or maybe not. Maybe she doesn't care if her mom ever returns because maybe she thought her mom was a straight-up b-word.

"White Bird in a Blizzard" settles in for the long con, setting itself up as a mystery, seemingly a murder mystery, the longer that Eve remains a gone girl. Yet the the pace reflects no urgency in solving it, reflecting Kat's, well, disaffection about whether or not it's ever solved. She seems more wrapped up in her sexual awakening, sleeping with her kinda, sorta boyfriend across the street who suddenly does seem quite so hot for her and sleeping with the much-older if nonetheless frisky detective (Thomas Jane) who is convinced Kat's dad is guilty of a crime.

The ultimate resolution to the mystery, intended to represent stifling of sexuality, is so laughable that when it is revealed a particular character literally laughs, long and hard. I was literally laughing too. That mystery, however, is merely the misdirection, the distraction from the real story, centering around Kat's slog toward maturation, and how it happens through what almost feels like a seance through flashback with her manipulative, spiteful mother.

There are moments when Green seems like anything but a suburban housewife. I mean, the sight of Eva Green making meatloaf is about as believable as the thought of Stefani Germanotta eating Doritos. But then, that's right. She's an unhappy outcast, not at home in her home, much too large for this life, trapped, a white bird, a white bird trapped in a blizzard. And it's not so much that Kat finds love for her mother as a recognition for how her mother must have felt, and the understanding that she must not allow herself to fall victim to the same fate.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great review. I think 2014 is a great year for Shailene Woodley.