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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » White Bird in a Blizzard (Blu-ray)
White Bird in a Blizzard (Blu-ray)
Magnolia Home Entertainment // R // January 20, 2015 // Region A
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Oktay Ege Kozak | posted January 12, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

Gregg Araki's White Bird in a Blizzard combines Araki's trademark exploration of the awkwardness of teenage sexual awakening with an almost-Technicolor Douglas Sirk-style suburban melodrama. It explores dysfunctional family dynamics, as well as an honest take on taboo subject matter like a mother going through midlife crisis envying her daughter's youth, as well as the many unavoidable ways children begin resembling the parents they work so hard to distance themselves from.

That is, until an unnecessary mystery element is clumsily inserted into the third act, is almost saved from disaster by providing a seemingly ambiguous ending that would have fit the tone of the first hour, and goes completely off the rails into sensationalist cuckoo-land with its preposterous final three minutes.

If those three minutes, which spoon-feed the answers to every single mystery while introducing a couple of insane Shyamalan-esque twists that come out of nowhere and add absolutely nothing to the story were wisely cut out, White Bird in a Blizzard could have ended up as a mildly impressive yet underwhelming study of youthful sexuality and teenage loss. However, in this state it ends up as a wildly atonal mess that was at least executed with an original and deft visual approach. That alone might be enough to consider a rental, but anything beyond that would be pointless.

Based on Laura Kasischke's novel, White Bird in a Blizzard tells the story of Kat (Yes Mr. Skin members, this is the movie where Shailene Woodley shows her boobs), a girl in her late teens dealing with her sexual awakening while trying to process the sudden disappearance of her mother Eve (Eva Green, who's slowly turning into the undisputable queen of modern camp). The story takes place in 1988, but the way Araki uses bright pastel colors in the aforementioned Douglas Sirk style makes it look like a lucid dream version of the 50s.

Araki is no stranger to honest and raw sexual content related to teenagers. Compared to his unrated or NC-17 works, White Bird in a Blizzard is actually pretty tame and almost tender in the way it deals with Kat's burgeoning sexual appetite, which extends into an affair with the cop (Thomas Jane) who's in charge of finding her mother.

The flashbacks depicting the unhappy marriage between Eve and Kat's annoyingly spineless and glib father Brock (A perfectly cast Christopher Meloni), as well as Eve's uncontrollable jealousy regarding Kat's sexual prowess compared to her dry sex life provide the most fascinating sequences in the film. Eva Green's performance of a sexually frustrated bomb seconds away from explosion could have veered into Mommy Dearest-level camp but Green manages to keep the character human while making some bold choices.

The Blu-Ray:

Video:

The Technicolor style melodramatic look of the film is captured perfectly via this impressive 1080p transfer. All of the bright colors during the flashbacks blend really well with the more realistic and dark visual style of some scenes. Overall, this is a clean and loyal presentation.

Audio:

The DTS-HD 5.1 track is adequate for a drama and does a good job lulling the audience into the film's dream-like atmosphere via Harold Budd and Robin Guthrie's tender score. Not much surround presence or much power from a surround system can be observed. However, considering the genre, this is a very reasonable presentation.

Extras:

Deleted Scenes: In these 10 minutes of deleted material, we mostly get excised dream sequences. We also get an alternate title sequence.

Interview With Shailene Woodley: During this 8-minute extra, Woodley talks openly about using the screenplay and the source novel while constructing her performance.

Interview With Gregg Araki: This 10-minute interview mostly covers how much Araki wanted to work with Shailene Woodley as well as their working relationship.

AXS TV, A Look at White Bird in a Blizzard: A glorified trailer promoting the film via quick interview segments.

Commentary With Gregg Araki and Shailene Woodley: This is a very honest, loose and informative commentary where Araki and Woodley talk mostly about their approaches to the characters.

We also get a Trailer.

Final Thoughts:

Even though I don't think White Bird in a Blizzard ever stood a chance at becoming a character study masterpiece, especially during a year that provided so much excellent material within that genre, it could have ended up as a smart examination of early female sexuality and awkward family dynamics. Unfortunately, the final three minutes of the film ruins pretty much everything.

Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and Beyazperde.com

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