Director: Gregg Araki | 90 minutes | drama, thriller | Actors: Shailene Woodley, Eva Green, Christopher Meloni, Shiloh Fernandez, Angela Bassett, Gabourey Sidibe, Ava Acres, Thomas Jane, Mark Indelicato, Dale Dickey, Sheryl Lee, Michael Patrick McGill, Jill L. Johnson, Jacob Artist, Brenda Koo
There are few story elements that you can unleash in just about any genre. The element of “the disappearance” is an exception to that rule. You will encounter the missing mother / daughter / father / lover in thrillers, tragedies, horror and a single comedy. “White Bird in a Blizzard” is a genre mix of thriller and drama. With reasonable results.
It is the fall of 1988 when the mother of the rebellious adolescent Kat disappears from the face of the earth. Nothing indicates a crime and soon father and daughter must learn to deal with the new situation. With little support from her attractive but dull boyfriend Phil, Kat reaches out to macho police officer Scieziesciez. The investigation into the disappearance suddenly gets a new impetus in 1991, when Kat returns from campus to the family home for the holidays.
This intriguing story largely comes to us in the form of flashbacks. It shows how Kat’s mother suddenly underwent a number of changes in the months before her disappearance. Did she have a lover? Did she intend to run away? The search for the answers is still the greatest asset of this film. Along with the fine acting of Eva Green as mother Eve and Shailene Woodley as Kat.
Less successful is the lack of detailed characters. In “White Birds in a Blizzard” we do not get any real character deepening, but we always stay on the surface. You do get hints, you suspect a world of longing and frustration, but it never becomes completely clear. Although the unknowability of the fellow human beings is an important motif in the film, those unexplored characters make it almost impossible to sympathize.
Despite that lack, this thriller drama has come through well. The 80s are as always a rewarding setting for fans of wavy music, bad hairstyles and oversized T-shirts. Story and denouement are thrilling and although not worked out, the characters are consistent and believable. Nice movie. And missed opportunity.