VOD film review: White Bird in a Blizzard
James R | On 16, Mar 2015
Director: Gregg Araki
Cast: Shailene Woodley, Eva Green, Thomas Jane
Watch White Bird in a Blizzard online in the UK: TalkTalk TV / Apple TV (iTunes) / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Google Play
How many modern filmmakers are there who be easily identified from their work? Gregg Araki is certainly one of them. His saturated colours, sexual intensity, coming-of-age themes and surreal flourishes are always recognisable – and present and correct in his latest, White Bird in a Blizzard. And yet this is, in some ways, the least Gregg Araki Gregg Araki film to date.
The film, based on Laura Kasischke’s novel, is ostensibly a domestic mystery, making this a surprisingly straightforward tale. Shailene Woodley stars as Kat, whose mum, Eve (Green), goes missing – and never returns. Has she been murdered? Kidnapped? Or did she simply get tired of married life and run off with another bloke?
Thomas Jane’s butch Detective Scieziesciez is more concerned with getting off with Kat than finding the gone girl – a fact that is both the strength and weakness of Araki’s movie. The director’s continued passion for, well, passion, is as hard as ever, which means that any sense of narrative drive plays second fiddle to sexual tension. But it also gives Woodley a chance to shine, echoing her own character’s growth into womanhood with another striking – but this time highly sensual – performance.
She is rivalled in the arousing stakes by Eva Green, who dials up her attractiveness to the max as the picture-perfect housewife; a Stepford mum with a spiky bitterness. Is it because she’s jealous of Kat’s boyfriend, the dull Phil from next door? Or is she just bored? The ambiguities swirl around in delightfully realised dream sequences, while Araki’s script milks Phil for every laugh he’s worth. They combine to make an engaging mix of suburban melodrama and psychological thriller; a cross between Twin Peaks and Hollyoaks that gives Gregg Araki’s familiar features a restrained, grown-up edge.
When the ending arrives, it feels almost irrelevant, but there is more than enough in the middle to intrigue. White Bird in a Blizzard may not grip you by the brain or by the balls, but it quietly entrances with its moving performances and beautiful visuals.