Parents' Guide to

White Bird in a Blizzard

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Uneven but well-acted drama is disturbing; lots of sex.

Movie R 2014 91 minutes
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Audiences expecting their favorite young adult-adaptation heroine to channel Hazel Grace or Tris should be warned -- this is Woodley playing a very different kind of teenager. Kat may be only 17-18, but Woodley is in her 20s, and this film is best reserved for adults who understand the nuances of adolescence and marital discord. There are unpredictable twists and turns, but they come a little too late in the film to keep audiences rapt through some of the more meandering portions in the middle. Overall, White Bird is wildly uneven, and the main character isn't particularly likable or relatable, but the performances are worth seeing, particularly Woodley and Green, who seems to be channeling Joan Crawford in her over-the-top depiction of an alternately bored and manic housewife.

Araki is best known for directing 2004's Mysterious Skin, a thorough exploration of adolescent sexuality that starred Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Now, he's again turning his attention to a gifted young actor (in this case, Woodley) in a tale set during a time in life when sex grows into an almost obsessive preoccupation. Kat's mother is gone, but she doesn't concern herself too deeply with the "what ifs"; she just assumes her mother got sick of her domestic imprisonment and took off for a life of self fulfillment. Kat is much more interested in figuring out why Phil has all of a sudden stopped taking her up on her sexual advances. Kat's focus on sexual release is unsettling, especially when she sets her sights on seducing the macho and much older detective.

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