I'm as big a fan of indies as the next guy, preferring the bigger, more grandiose projects. However, I'm not one to satyr away from the genre as, at times, it can deliver some absolute gems. The Shailene Woodley starring White Bird in a Blizzard isn't exactly a gem.. but, it's certainly something.

The film opened, over in the U.S, in the week following the release of David Fincher's Gone Girl, last year. It's not hard to guess why this wasn't a commercial success. But, then again, Gregg Araki's films never are. The director has a weird approach when it comes to tackling films. They, most definitely, are not for everyone. The same goes for his latest.

The film follows Woodley's Kat Connors, your average 17 year old girl. Having lived for so long in an emotionally repressed household, she barely realises that her mother Eve (Eva Green) has gone missing and uses this as an opportunity to spend all her time hanging out with her friends and seducing Thomas Jane's cop, handling the case. But, as time goes on, Kat slowly begins to understand just how deeply Eve's disappearance has affected her. Returning home on a break from college, she finds herself confronted with the truth about her mother's departure, and her own denial about the events surrounding it.

The elements are all there, to make a compelling and intriguing piece of cinema about the coming of age and Kat's tumultuous relations with her parents. However, it just doesn't hit. Araki has a vivid, unusual approach when it comes to making films. He goes for a noir, old-school-esque thriller... yet he somehow manages to find a way to make it anything but that. It's shot gorgeously, really taking you back to the 80s and, occasionally, feeling dreamy and absurd.

The film is based on Laura Kasischke's novel, in which the mystery behind Green's disappearance is the core, but Araki's attention is on Woodley's teenage melodrama and her encounters/struggles with love and it quickly loses itself and becomes a tedious watch, only (barely) held together by our pair of leads. However, there's very little substance to their characters and it's hard to care much for their fates and what's going on.

Woodley is great in the role. She's a brilliant actress and gives a good, convincing performance as our strewn lead. She gives life and personality to what little depth her character has. She's able to inhabit this grown-up, mature role and handles all the swearing and nudity well. Green too is good, really illuminating the movie as this jealous, competitive mother who cannot handle her daughter's looks and youth. If only their characters were more fleshed out.

White Bird in a Blizzard is an unusually profound, well-shot and well acted film yet it, simply, lacks the vitality and exuberance to entertain so quickly dwindles into nothing more than a dazzlingly dazed and confused mess.
★★☆☆☆

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About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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