Buried Credits, a column that deep dives into the IMDB pages of favorite actors, directors, and writers to find their lost, forgotten, or unknown film and TV credits, continues this week with works featuring Eva Green.
White Bird in a Blizzard (2014)
Written and Directed by Gregg Araki
I can’t shake this movie. To say it’s a bad thing would be an unwarranted slap. To say it’s a good thing would be a lie because THIS MOVIE HAS ME FREAKED OUT.
Which tells you what kind of a well-crafted beast we’re dealing with. Movies don’t do this to people every day. They can make you go head over heels in love but actually frightened is flooring. White Bird in a Blizzard isn’t horror but a pitch black, psychological slow drawl that lets you to watch in denial of how bad it’s going to get, until it gets there.
Shailene Woodley stars as Kat Connors, whose mom (Green) disappeared without leaving a note when she was seventeen. Ever since Kat has been having dreams about her, many of them set in a blinding white snow scene. She knows her mom wanted out of her life but it was the reality of being a housewife, the monotony of making dinners, which slowly destroyed her, not thoughts of suicide. She despised her husband (a brushed off sad sack brought to life with genuine believability by Christopher Meloni). She envied her only daughter.
Flashbacks, many triggered during Kat’s therapy sessions, with Angela Bassett as her therapist, demonstrate frequently erratic behavior. Staring at Kat getting dressed or waking her up in the middle of the night to ask how her boyfriend, Phil (Shiloh Fernandez), is in bed. There’s a danger to these outbursts, that doesn’t belong between mother and child, but Green also doesn’t make them purposely cruel. You can feel how both were trapped whenever Kat underplays what occurred aloud. All of her anger is targeted at her mom for leaving but she also defends her. She believes that it wasn’t so bad. This selective memory is key to the entire movie.
Some people can throw curses better than others and I’m not sure Woodley is one of them. In areas that matter, like delivering the kind of dark voiceover lines, that skip a beat before they hit and make you guffaw, she is spectacular. It’s rare for a movie to have a sexually free young women who can also get good grades, be loyal to friends (Gabourey Sidibe and Mark Indelicato), and come home for meals without fuss. Minimal ‘teenage angst’. Her reasons for getting mad at her mom aren’t petty and she usually isn’t the one who instigates things.
Green’s face is transparent throughout the whole picture, letting every emotion be visible, and making exchanges with Phil’s mom, who’s blind, incredibly complex. The casting of Dale Dickey is wonderfully utilized.
At times Kat’s repression makes you feel like you’re figuring things out before her. Other times her repression ensures you don’t see what’s coming. A small but significant time jump (the film is set in the late 80’s, early 90’s, where pay phones were how you called people) leads to the jolting conclusion.
Verdict: Buried Treasure
White Bird in a Blizzard deserves 4 stars. It might deserve more. The ending has left me so seriously creeped out that I can’t bring myself to add them. If you’re in the mind-set for a film that takes you off guard, this is one to watch.
Check back tomorrow as we close off the week with Eva Green’s silent performance in a Western.