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A movie which deals with lack of understanding and the punishment one can receive for either wanting to be different, or being perceived as different.
Review (with Spoilers)
As opposed to Rudderless, which also covers a school shooting, before anything happens things are nipped in the bud in Blackbird. However, rather than focus the film on the parent, this film focuses on the would-be perpetrator of the shooting. Thus leading us on a journey dealing with one boy’s small minded community putting him through utter hell. For more on Blackbird, look below.
Characters & Story
A young goth kid named Sean (Connor Jessup) falls for a young preppy girl, with a very watchful father, named Deanna (Alexia Fast). Issue is, Deanna’s fear of being an outsider, or not liked, keeps her from being with Sean. Also, due to her boyfriend and others bullying Sean, he finds himself taking the advice of the school counselor Ms. Dorey’s (Alexis Milligan) and venting online. Thus leading to the allegations of him planning a school shooting coming in.
From there, we witness the story of how the black sheep in a sort of rural-ish town deals with accusations of planning a school shooting, being within juvenile detention, and interacting with a girl who you are never sure about.
What I love most about the film is the premise. For often times in film, when dealing with this subject matter, we are introduced to someone after they have done the deed, or not too long before. So, either way, by the end of the film we know they are guilty. With Sean’s story, though, we explore what happens when someone wasn’t planning on doing anything, but simply venting. For with bullying, especially when the bully is stronger and they have associates who support their bullying, all you can do is really vent. Plus, taking note of Ms. Dorey’s (Alexis Milligan) advice, you can see various issues not talked about when it comes to bullying and mental health.
Thus leading to a well-made story showing why people who feel victimized by bullying sometimes feel helpless. For not everyone wants to open up to a complete stranger, who likely can only make things worse; then, on top of that, there is also the issue of people blaming the victim more so than trying to correct the perpetrator; and, as the final straw, no one steps up for the victim. So, of course, they are going to vent or may even do something drastic. And I feel, despite Sean not going to the more irrational decision, you get a full sense of the issues society has when it comes to bullying and why, likely, it will never be eradicated on a global scale.
The film pacing makes this seem very long, which is a real issue for a film nearly 2 hours. I mostly contribute this to Jessup having that sort of deadpan look Kristen Stewart has. Which, to me, conveys this idea that either the actor finds the role hardly stimulating, or else they are trying to bring an idea of exhaustion to the character in a way which doesn’t translate well. For while Jessup was by no means horrible, I just felt ultimately that his performance, and Sean’s frustrations, are the key reason why the film felt so tedious to finish. For as Sean begins to seemingly just go through life tuned out, almost to the point of becoming indifferent, you begin to feel the same way and stop caring what happens.
Overall: Skip It
Though I enjoyed the story and learned to understand the performances with time, I can’t recommend watching this. For one, it is not really the type of film you can watch in one sitting without eventually wanting to take a nap. Then, on top of that, being that Jessup plays Sean as someone who seemingly is drained of any sort of vibrancy or life, it especially becomes hard to really want to see his story until the end, even when you account for his relationship with Deanna. Though perhaps the big reason I am saying to skip this is because the ending comes off more like the writer ran out of things to say. Making it feel like this journey you went on, which was long and daunting, was almost for nothing. And that is what tipped this from being on the low level of TV Viewing to something you should just skip.
Things to Note
For some reason, the friends Sean has at the beginning of the film, the ones who he didn’t “threaten” the lives of, we don’t see them again after he goes in the first time. Something I thought that was so weird, especially since it seemed the main reason he looked up Deanna after his first sentence was because he was lonely.