Actress Susan Sarandon owes me a substantial about of money for the tissues I've used whilst losing tears in her movies. I wept through my lashes to the cassette version of 1998 'Stepmum', understanding her character's terminal cancer and inevitable pain about leaving behind her children. Twenty three years later, and Susan was back causing waterfalls in 'Blackbird' as a mother deciding to end her life with the assistance of her husband after discovering she has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Addressing their nearest and dearest in a magnificent beach side condo for one final weekend of memories, I was in for another emotional rollercoaster in my front room.
The whole premise of this narrative is uncomfortably clever. The picture is an adaption of a Danish film "Silent Heart" that British director Roger Michell chose to remake. He outlays a very chronological structure, with a small cast, minimal locations, and beloved relationships, with a deathly twist. Kate Winslet plays the oldest daughter of Lily, Jennifer, whose grabbing onto her mothers clothes until her final hours. Her narrow mind and conforming attitude is the ideal contrast to her rebellious mum, who later smokes pot at the dinner table and talks of wild nights on mushrooms as a teenager.
As an audience member you're drawn into an adventure of ciphering what each family member understands. The dynamics are beautiful, and each actor is given substantial screen time to connect their own unique backstory. Director Roger notably confronts many 21st century topics by addressing mental health, scripting in a homosexual couple and showcasing an androgynous female as Chris. Lindsay Duncan plays the defiant best friend modestly, learning the ropes about her children's futures, that it reminds you of the importance of lifetime friendships.
What makes the piece memorable are the poetic speeches and the explosive arguments between the sisters which gives the title such power. The cinematography around the Christmas dinner table was stunning, capturing the sheer laughter, love and then sudden anger from all the characters faces.
Blackbird (2021, Amazon)
The whole film revolves around the lead up and discussions to allow Lily to die, but then the director chooses not to show it. As she lays in bed with her two offsprings, you don't see her pass, which feels frustrating as an audience member. That drew away the realism which the film had made a wonderful effort to create.
Blackbird (2021, Amazon)
This film makes us question our control when it comes to death. It's a conflicting but beautiful portrayal of suicide from two opposing angles. One, from a mother choosing to direct her own path because of infinite pain, and two from a neglected daughter feeling pressure to give up against the perfection from the world. Who doesn't want to be reminded to live out each day, this drama includes absorbing performances to leave a genuine poignant message.