Blackbird: Film Review


With a star-studded ensemble cast led by Susan Sarandon, Kate Winslet, Sam Neill, and Mia Wasikowska, I simply couldn’t resist checking out Blackbird, but I have to admit I came away disappointed.

The film is set across three days at a home on America’s East Coast, where Jennifer (Winslet) and her sister Anna (Wasikowska) arrive with their families and partners for one final hurrah with their mum Lily (Sarandon). She is battling a terminal disease and plans to end her life with dignity with the help of her doctor husband (Neill) at the end of the reunion.

Blackbird, a remake of the 2014 Danish film Silent Heart, tries to be a black comedy and an emotional tearjerker and is unsuccessful at both. It was amusing and entertaining watching these eight people interacting, rehashing old arguments, having exciting confrontations or dropping shocking revelations, but the script wasn’t funny or emotional enough. I’m usually a sucker for sad movies and cry with ease but I didn’t feel remotely attached to these characters or the story so the ending didn’t inspire much feeling in me.

The cast is terrific – especially Sarandon as the woman determined to go out with dignity and grace and Wasikowska as her troubled daughter – but they are let down by the script and the lack of characterisation. Neill’s character is extremely vague and Winslet’s character is given a flimsy stereotype with very little nuance. She was also a bit overdramatic and repetitive. I really wanted to know more about everybody – including her husband Michael (Rainn Wilson), son Jonathan (Anson Boon), Anna’s girlfriend Chris (Bex Taylor-Klaus), and Lily’s best friend Liz (Lindsay Duncan) – but the script is rather shallow, too heavy-handed at times, and certain truces or understandings between characters didn’t feel earned. I also wished the moral issue of euthanasia had been addressed a bit more, but the family had clearly debated the pros and cons before the film begins.

Despite the interesting premise, revelations, and family dynamics, Roger Michell‘s Blackbird and his incredible star-studded cast are let down by a weak screenplay.

Available on digital download and DVD now 

Rating: 3/5

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