Kat Connor (Shailene Woodley, "The Fault in Our Stars") seems strangely unaffected when her stunning but troubled and unhappy mother Eve (Eva Green, "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For") disappears. She's seventeen, into sex with her next door boyfriend Phil (Shiloh Fernandez, 2013's "Evil Dead") and had been pulling away from her mom's antics. But her dad sends her to Dr. Thaler (Angela Bassett, TV's 'American Horror Story'), who starts Kat questioning her own feelings and the dreams in which Eve appears like a "White Bird in a Blizzard."
With his second adaptation of a novel, writer/director Gregg Araki seems to be reaching back for the disturbing adolescence of his 2005 "Mysterious Skin," but while that film had a sad, creepy pull, his latest plays like lurid camp - in the truest sense of the word.
The film begins with a one of Kat's copious voice overs, explaining that her mother named her Katrina because she'd always wanted a pet and could call her daughter 'Kat.' Even as a little girl, Kat knew her mother treated her dad, Brock (Christopher Meloni, "Sin City: A Dame to Kill For"), like a doormat while he did everything to make her happy and that mom read about orgasms as her husband pleasured himself with porn.
Now Kat's confused as to why Phil seems uninterested in sex, but the more Thaler prods her to reflect, the more she remembers mom's strange behavior around her boyfriend. Suddenly the woman ditched her 60's era housewife look for mini skirts and began arriving in her daughter's bedroom in the middle of the night to demand to know if Phil is a good f&*k. Kat takes care of her hormones by seducing Detective Scieziesciez (Thomas Jane, HBO's 'Hung'), the guy's who's investigating mom's disappearance and she's pleased as punch when, a year and a half later, dad begins dating May (Sheryl Lee, TV's 'Twin Peaks').
The film garnered some notoriety at Sundance 2014 for Woodley's nude scene, but truthfully it's far more shocking to see the healthy living advocate smoking cigarettes. Perhaps the actress wanted to stretch outside her comfort zone, but the effort is palpable. Eva Green, in the Asia Argento role, snarls and slithers around like a mental patient. The dialogue is often ludicrous, the direction stilted. And you simply won't believe where the metaphor in author Laura Kasischke's title is headed. The climactic flash back is a hoot, but it makes little sense.
Araki trots out his usual collection of Cocteau Twins, Depeche Mode, Echo and the Bunnymen and The Cure for his late 80's set film (it sometimes seems like he uses filmmaking as a means to air out his record collection). Costumes look like, well, costumes - whenever Kat gets together with Beth (Gabourey Sidibe, TV's 'American Horror Story') and Mickey (Mark Indelicato, TV's 'Ugly Betty') they look like they're on their way to an 80's nostalgia party. Why Eve dresses like June Cleaver in 1989 is anybody's guess.
"White Bird in a Blizzard" goes so far off the rails, it's enjoyable in a twisted kind of way. It's Douglas Sirk by way of John Waters - if he had his sense of humor removed.
Robin also gives "White Bird in a Blizzard" a C.
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