EMINE – ‘White Bird in a Blizzard’: the blinding white

‘White Bird in a Blizzard’: the blinding whiteAmerican indie director Gregg Arakiandrsquos andldquoWhite Bird in a Blizzard,andrdquo loosely adapted from Laura Kasischkeandrsquos novel of the same name, brings together two very different actresses for the roles of mother and daughter Who could have imagined that Shaileen Woodley could be the daughter of Eva Green, who in real life is only 11 years older than Woodley?Woodley has already reached the kind of fame and success of her peer Jennifer Lawrence, though possibly she has a very different screen presence. Woodley shone with Alexander Payneandrsquos Oscar-winning movie andldquoThe Descendants,andrdquo and continued her alternative path with andldquoThe Spectacular Nowandrdquo and teen cancer-romance andldquoThe Fault In Our Starsandrdquo until she was handed the main female lead in Hollywood blockbuster andldquoDivergent.

andrdquo Woodley has a certain charm that is not so much movie-star-glamorous but stems from that girl-next-door aura she carries so well throughout all her films, even though it can become a tad monotonous at times. Yet with andldquoWhite Bird in a Blizzard,andrdquo one of the most bizarre and strangely nostalgic coming-of-age films of late, her characterandrsquos familiar suburban appearance is only a mask for her characterandrsquos confusion, dark tendencies and desperation.

This time Woodley is the seriously screwed-up girl next door who does not possess an ounce of sweetness in her Itandrsquos surely a brave choice for the actress, given that sheandrsquos stepping out of her comfort zone. But just wait until we get to Eva Green.

For anyone who grew up in the andlsquo80s, Arakiandrsquos choice of soundtrack music and his production design dominated by the pastel shades of the color palette will cause echoes of a specific historical mood as opposed to actual experience. The film directly transports us into 1988, or more like the 1988 that one chooses to remember The atmosphere throughout this entire story is somewhat evocative of the ethereal and indefinable pathos of the original andldquoTwin Peaksandrdquo series this time, however, Eva Greenandrsquos character Eve Connor replaces Laura Palmer in many respects, not just by physical disappearance but also by suburban rage and repressed violence.

A rare genre mixture of mystery and coming-of-age, the film is more inclined to feature conventions from the latter and exploit thriller elements for its psychological benefits rather than narrative structure. Kat Connor (Woodley) is your average 17-year-old suburban American teenager sheandrsquos filled with raging hormones and puts on a rebellious act towards her parents, especially to her mother Eve, who has started becoming outwardly jealous of Katandrsquos blossoming womanhood.

Eve was once a beautiful woman, and although she still is, her descent into alcoholism, emotional depression and frustration with her not-too-extraordinary husband has transformed her into a wild-eyed neurotic. Kudos to Eva Green, who manages to relay a convincing albeit volatile performance of the emotional lockdown of a stay-at-home suburban wife who believes she gave up her youth in vain.

One day Eve just disappears from the face of the earth. Husband Brock (Christopher Meloni) is forlorn, but Kat couldnandrsquot give a damn.

She never got along with her mother and sheandrsquos assuming that the woman just abandoned them for good. Katandrsquos life continues, though much edgier than before she cheats on her steady boyfriend Phil (Shiloh Fernandez) with the 40-year-old detective investigating motherandrsquos case.

Her intermittent sessions with her therapist (an underused Angela Bassett) underline that Katandrsquos nonchalance might only be a cover-up for her trauma over momandrsquos loss, and the disturbing snow-themed surreal dreams in which Eve always suddenly vanishes doesnandrsquot exactly help, either At this point the film tries to change course from nostalgic melodrama into murder mystery as the young woman becomes determined to find her mother, and possibly make peace with herself and the misunderstood matriarchal shadow that follows her everywhere.There are scenes in this film that stand out as cinematic works of art in themselves, especially through the use of color, lend positioning and a certain style of acting that is guided with the unique mark of Gregg Araki.

However, in total, andldquoWhite Bird in a Blizzardandrdquo doesnandrsquot build up a heart-wrenching or even provocative emotional hiatus that makes this very odd experience worth it. It seems that sometimes, style becomes too much of a priority that overruns emotional and psychological conviction rather than moving hand-in-hand with it.

There are some very brave and bold performances here, especially from Eva Green, yet they tend to get diluted in a screenplay that lacks true focus and any discernable empathy with human nature. This film is too cool for its own good.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman