LFF 2019 Review: ‘Blackbird’

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Lionsgate

LFF 2019 Review: Blackbird is an American film that appeared as a Special Presentation at this years festival.

Blackbird is an exquisite piece of film making, with every shot, every line, every sideway glance carefully chosen. Susan Sarandon rules the roost as Lily, who has chosen to end her life before her terminal disease renders her incapable. Sarandon rises to the occasion in a stoic powerhouse performance, with  the other players matching up to her.

Kate Winslet is painfully annoying as the eldest daughter, every bit the control freak, expecting her family to be perfect. Watch out for her vacuuming the tree around the families feet whilst they decorate it for Christmas. Her husband, played by The Office’s Rainn Wilson is every boring in law you’ve been stuck next to at a party, but he has a heart of gold and covers his nerves with fun facts.  Grandson Jonathan, played by newcomer Anson Boon starts cold but blooms throughout the film, at first locked out from what is happening over the weekend, his relationship with his grandmother gives him the power to embrace who he wants to be.

Younger daughter Anna played by Mia Wasikowska is devastating to watch, her heart breaking at the thought of losing her mother, whilst also dealing with her own internal anguish. Her partner Chris (Arrow Alum Bex Taylor-Klaus) boosts her along, an outsider to the family, she fills the empty spaces with confidence and ease. Family friend Elizabeth is also there to say goodbye, despite protestations that she is not a part of their family. Rounding out the family is Lily’s husband (Sam Neill). He is the anchor of the film, ever doting, ever caring and ever watching. His subtle movements, his lack of words speak volumes and Neill delivers a performance to break your heart.

The true star of the movie is the home itself. Surrounded by nature but yet clinically ordered, it’s glass structure mean there is nowhere to truly hide. Based in England, it becomes as much a character of the film as those in it.

The subject of assisted suicide is handled tactfully, it never feels manipulative, instead giving the story time to breathe. At times still and contemplative, and yet no minute is wasted. Even the smaller characters like Taylor Klaus’ Chris feel fully formed, and never under-utilised.

Blackbird is a film that is fully formed, multi faceted and deserves major awards praise. To spend time with this film feels like a truly remarkable experience.

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