Director: Gregg Araki
Stars: Shailene Woodley, Christopher Meloni, Eva Green, Shiloh Fernandez, Thomas Jane, Gabourey Sidibe, Angela Bassett
Not unlike the recent YA tearjerker The Fault in Our Stars, veteran indie filmmaker Gregg Araki’s White Bird in a Blizzard stars Shailene Woodley as a wise-beyond-her-years teenager. Also similar to Fault, her character narrates the whole film with filters off. Once you get into White Bird in a Blizzard’s ‘80s-set subject matter, however, its genre roots becomes clearer. Katrina, or "Kat" (Woodley), is a sexually exploratory, foul-mouthed suburban rebel whose mother, Eve (Eva Green), disappears one day, leaving Kat and her nice-guy dad (Christopher Meloni) with several questions but few answers. It’s a coming-of-age story that’s never sweet, a sort-of thriller that goes for R-rated whimsy over whodunit mystery.
Araki, whose hard-bubblegum visual sensibilities always counterbalance his films’ heavy topics (see: Mysterious Skin, Kaboom), matches White Bird in a Blizzard's ongoing ‘80s pop soundtrack with a dreamlike mood. And it’s all strongly grounded by Woodley, the best actor of her generation. Guided by Araki’s unadulterated style, Woodley holds nothing back, shedding both her figurative skin and literal clothes to portray an amalgamation of her The Descendants, The Spectacular Now, and The Fault in Our Stars characters. Also stellar here is, unsurprisingly, Eva Green, Hollywood’s boldest actress and White Bird in a Blizzard’s enigmatic conflict-catalyst, a troubled woman lashing out against domestication while losing her mind.
A teen drama on its surface, White Bird in a Blizzard gradually reveals its Fantasia-worthy qualifications. It’s a ghost story, but one in which the specter is that of a young woman’s formative years.