White Bird in a Blizzard
London Film Festival: Gregg Araki's latest is a melancholy mystery starring Shailene Woodley and Eva Green
Eva Green has been perfecting embittered rage for a few years now and slips neatly into the part of lonely housewife Eve, a woman who's slowly fading away and whose fragmented personality brings to mind Valley of the Dolls' histrionics as she sloshes booze around her gob and becomes insanely jealous of her daughter’s freedom and youth. When Eve vanishes, hardened detective Scieziesciez (Thomas Jane) investigates, imparting downbeat words of wisdom along the way.
An inspired 80s soundtrack featuring Robert Smith and Siouxsie Sioux brings to mind Valley Girl and Pretty in Pink. Kat hangs out with her friends Beth (Gabourey Sidibe) and Mickey (Mark Indelicato) in her bedroom and dirty dive bars, but strangely never at school. Araki has always been comfortable dealing with youthful angst, bitchy chat and loss of innocence, although his latest lacks an earth-shattering denouement to rival those from his previous films. Once again he doesn’t shy away from scenes of a prurient nature, refreshingly refusing to make a big deal out of the fact that his female protagonist is someone who enjoys sex.
Woodley strikes the right chord between being a miserable teen who's coming of age at a time of great personal adversity, and a carefree spirit who's out for kicks. She narrates her story like Charlotte Flax from Mermaids, resigned to her gloom but also a little naïve. Sheryl Lee (Twin Peaks' Laura Palmer) turns up towards the end, and her presence contributes to the Lynchian vibe and chill air of tragedy which sweeps through events like an arctic breeze. Loss pierces every moment of this melancholy mystery where everyone appears to be frozen in time and evil lurks behind suburbia's respectable facade.
Screening on Thu 16 and Sat 18 Oct as part of the London Film Festival 2014. General release TBC.