White Bird In A Blizzard
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White Bird In A Blizzard

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It is only natural that when the young actor is just starting their career that they are initially typecast. A strapping young man, they find that he is sought after as an adventurous hero or more probably a villain. For attractive young women, the roles they might be pigeonholed into include; mean girl, ingénue, survivor girl or hooker. If the burgeoning actor is in possession of innate talent is certain not to remain restricted by this narrow selection of parts. The current prime example of this can be found with the young actress, Shailene Woodley. When I first saw her in the ABC Family Teen Oriented Drama, ‘The Secret Life of the American Teenager’, I noted that her performances will be stiff that was undoubtedly largely the result specific genre style of the show runners. Since then, Ms. Woodley has grown amazingly in the scope and depth of her talents. Many cinephiles, including myself, are closely watching her career as a performer most likely to be standing at a podium in an evening gown accepting an Academy award for Best Actress. It appears that the typecasting that has been applied to Ms. Woodley is a bit unusual. In a recent interview, she noted that so far she has been ‘deflowered’ five times. Intrigued by such a comment, I looked back at her movies has statement was quite true. Apparently, if the casting director is given a summation of the character including the phrase "a young woman who is dealing with her awakening sexuality", the next action is to call Ms. Woodley’s management. In the good news though, she has not let this form of typecasting also back from portraying characters that challenges her talents which has resulted in her incredible growing command of her craft. Even when she took on an action hero role that emotionally poignant scene was still present. Once again, character loses her virginity yet again in her most recent film, ‘White Bird in a Blizzard’.

Kat Connors, (Shailene Woodley), may be young, but has already experienced significant trauma. Not long ago, when she was 17 years old, Kat’s mother, Eve (Eva Green), suddenly disappeared without a trace. Eve’s story is related to the audience through the use of flashbacks. Although this is a popular means of exposition for the filmmaker, it is also exceptionally difficult to master. In the case of the screen writer/director here, Gregg Araki, he has a number of films under his belt, but mostly offbeat comedies such as ‘Kaboom’, ‘Smiley Face’ and ‘The Doom Generation’. There is little here to provide stylistic or contextual basis to gain experience in the proper use of a disjointed timeline as induced by such a significant use of flashbacks. This may have been one of the missteps made in the construction of this film, but I have to give proper credit that is to avoid filmmaker who was willing to step out of his comfort zone, expanding his abilities techniques he is unfamiliar with.

Eve’s nature is readily revealed as the young woman best referred to as ‘The Wild Child’, always looking for some means for good time. When she gets married to Brock Connor (Christopher Meloni), is generally positive change begins to manifest. Eve settles down to a domestic wife and mother. The loss of her mother at such a pivotal point a young woman’s development had quite an impact on Kat. As a burgeoning attractiveness become noticeable to her schoolmates, Kat decides it is time for some experimentation the newfound sexual identity. The subject of her first test run is a classmate, Phil (Shiloh Fernandez). He is the male equivalent of an archetype which is traditionally applied to a young woman; extremely attractive, but noticeably lacking in the more intellectual pursuits. Kat doesn’t inexperience best to be sexy, but is lacking the maturity and experience to truly know what is expected. A while side is exacerbated whenever she is out of direct control of Brock. The emergence of such personality traits is something that is stable of Lifetime movies, especially those dealing with the perennial favorite plot contrivance, the coming-of-age story. Kat suffers from abandonment issues resulting from her mother’s disappearance and his acting out who such salacious behavior.

Kat quickly come to the conclusion that you should set his sights on experienced man, rather than the boy. An appropriate target comes into her life in the person of police Detective Scieziesciez (Thomas Jane). He is investigating her mother’s disappearance in the young woman finds him quite conducive to her seduction. Of course, this brings us to what has been Ms. Woodley’s trademarks scene, the loss of virginity. It is notable lack of needing to confirm that the wardrobe department for this particular moment of the film. While the scene does come across as more contrived the necessary in the undoubtedly increase the number of young male viewers. This is quite lamentable considering it precludes an attempt to understand the true meaning of the story in a quite likely as a significant part of preponderance of negative reviews the film has received.

Stories such as this require peer viewpoints which can serve, as much as possible, as the voice of reason. Kat’s two best friends, quite possibly her only confidants, Beth (Gabourey Sidibe) and Mickey (Mark Indelicato), whose general consensus is that Phil was having an affair with Eve. They are quick to remind Kat, the express this possibility before it became a concern of the official investigation. An extension of this plot thread reveals that Brock is having an affair with a coworker and he most certainly knows the location of his missing wife. At this juncture, Kat is being inundated by a lot of very disturbing possibilities. Once she finds most difficult to accept come from all over the lover, the detective, who suspects of father is responsible for murdering her mother. Some had suspected this two years ago when Eve first went missing, and Kat finds itself still reticent to accept the theory.

Fundamentally, the main plot is one the have seen many times before, and will undoubtedly revisit often in the future. Previously alluded to, this film, albeit in a more redacted form, is something perfectly suited for either the Lifetime or WE basic cable networks. To his credit, Mr. Araki has made an honest, concerted effort provide a deeper and more realistic emotional examination of these themes as well as the psychologically driven character arc experienced by Kat. Not only is Ms. Woodley’s performance and excellent showcase for considerable talents, but the casting of the remaining characters was as close to ideal as possible. Ms. Sidibe, has already had an Academy award nomination in the category of best leading actress for her first screen credit as the titular character for ‘Precious’. Both Christopher Meloni and Thomas Jane have already made quite a mark betraying intense characters on television and Angela Bassett represents another Oscar-nominated actress. The cast is superb, but once again, the filmmaker is still on a learning curve with regards to dramatic content. Moving on from a stoner comedy, such as ‘Smiley Face’, to something as emotionally intense and psychologically involved as the story here is quite an exceptionally leap. It should be remembered that many filmmakers are so hesitant the comfort of their established genres that they wind up trapped in that category of film. Mr. Araki has decided to jump headlong into the unknown, stretching himself as an artist. In life, many of us find that we must face changing careers or taking on completely different responsibilities. As you watch this film, keep this in mind, and rather than criticizing the faults the filmmaker has made, remember what it takes to willingly do something new.

bulletCommentary with Director Gregg Araki and Actress Shailene Woodley
bulletDeleted and Extended Scenes
bulletInterview with Director Gregg Araki
bulletInterview with Actress Shailene Woodley
bulletAXS TV: A Look at "White Bird In A Blizzard"
bulletTheatrical Trailer

Posted 01/21/2015

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