Movie review / ‘Blackbird’ (MA)

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Susan Sarandon and Kate Winslet in “Blackbird”.

“Blackbird” (MA) **** and a half

THE title of this English-language remake of the 2014 Danish film “Stille hjerte” is something of an enigma. Both versions were written by Christian Torpe, adapting a story by Bille August who directed the first version.

Lily (Susan Sarandon) knows that amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is going to turn her into a veggie before very long. No fun in that. No reason to postpone the inevitable if that’s all that she can look forward to. 

So her family gathers in the house in which they grew up to be with her before the end.

“Blackbird” has a top quality cast of eight. Sam Neill plays Lily’s husband Paul. Kate Winslet plays her elder daughter Jennifer, mother of Jonathan (Anson Boon) who aspires to become an actor. Rainn Wilson plays her somewhat dominated husband Michael. Mia Wasikowska plays younger daughter Anna, mother of androgynous daughter Chris (Bex Taylor-Klaus). And Lindsay Duncan plays Lily’s best friend Liz. 

The story unfolds through dialogue rather than movement (although Roger Michell’s direction delivers meticulous attention to the little things). 

Though set ostensibly at a Connecticut beach house, the film actually was shot near Chichester in the UK close to Kate Winslet’s real-life home which served as a sort of unofficial clubhouse for the shoot.

Some folk might consider its plot to lack substance. Some folk (probably the same individuals) are very likely to be younger than Lily. 

I’m not going to spoil your anticipation of “Blackbird” by telling you details of its denouement. It’s a six-tissue movie intelligently delivering emotional power with subtlety, surprise and occasional humour. I wonder whether it might get a nomination in any of several categories in the forthcoming Oscars.

At all cinemas

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"Blackbird" (MA) **** and a half
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Dougal Macdonald
“CityNews” film reviewer

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