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White Bird in a Blizzard


Stars: Shailene Woodley, Eva Green, Christopher Meloni, Thomas Jane, Angela Bassett, Shiloh Fernandez, Gabourey Sidibe, Sheryl Lee, Ava Acres

Director: Gregg Araki

Apart from the fact that this may be the erratic Araki's best film to date, it's a pleasure these days to see a movie shot in such beautiful colour, which resembles the Technicolor of old, only slightly plusher and more subtle.

The palette of the film is dazzlingly handled: note the bright-red lipstick of near-nympho Kat (Woodley) when she's on the prowl, easily seducing the cop (Jane) on the case of her missing mother (Green), who despised her milquetoast husband (Meloni and often threatened to leave.

At least the cop's a step up from Kat's thicko boyfriend (Fernandez) who says things like 'It's a vicious circus'.

Nowadays, Mom crops up only in Woodley's dreams as, with makeup now bleached and wandering all in white in a snowstorm, Kat finds her mother either naked in the snow or emerging from an icy grave.

There are graphic sex scenes which may surprise Woodley's Divergent followers, and lots of bad language, but what you notice most about the film are its striking visuals and its brisk, no-nonsense storytelling. All police efforts to find the missing woman come to nought, but secrets are destined to be revealed in an ending which, though a little improbable, is difficult to second-guess.

Woodley is forthright in a brave departure from her Divergent and Fault in Our Stars roles, while Meloni is also far from his beat as the macho cop hero of TV's Law and Order. Green, on the other hand, is her usual virago self, throwing caution to the winds in her customary eye-flashing, all-stops-out performance.

The airport departure of Woodley at the end is a touchingly muted note in a film that focusses mainly on harsh, raw emotions.

David Quinlan

USA 2014. UK Distributor: Altitude. Colour by DuArt.
90 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 3.

Review date: 01 Mar 2015