Sundance 2014: White Bird In A Blizzard reaction review

Shailene Woodley is electric in Gregg Araki’s compelling pot boiler of teenager Kat (Woodley) whose mother vanishes off the face of the earth.

Told via voiceover, flashback and through Kat’s sessions with her therapist (Angela Bassett) this could be Araki’s most narratively driven movie to date, with a mystery at its centre. Based on Laura Kasischke’s novel, White Bird In A Blizzard still carries many of Araki’s signature themes – burgeoning sexuality, outsider teens, and a brave central performance from an up-and-comer.

It’s a very female film, focusing on the relationship between Kat and her absent mother Eve (Eva Green) and Araki’s lens loves both, making Woodley impossibly gorgeous as she begins to realise her own power via her relationship with macho cop Thomas Jane, and convincingly aging Green, taking her from a glamorous and exotic young mother to a tired, bitter and frustrated middle-aged woman jealous of her own daughter’s youth.

Set in candy coloured suburbia, flashing back to the ’60s and ’70s but based mainly in the late ’80s, the soundtrack is an iconic mix of classic tracks. Not perhaps as edgy or daring as some of Araki’s previous films ( Mysterious Skin, Kaboom etc), White Bird is still distinctive and engaging, and could become a cult alternative for counter-culture kids against the current landscape of young adult movies (Woodley’s own Divergent will no doubt build her fanbase substantially when it opens in early April).

Good looking and good hearted.

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