An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African-American maids' point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.
Bryce Dallas Howard
A motorcycle stunt rider turns to robbing banks as a way to provide for his lover and their newborn child, a decision that puts him on a collision course with an ambitious rookie cop navigating a department ruled by a corrupt detective.
Katniss Everdeen voluntarily takes her younger sister's place in the Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death in which two teenagers from each of the twelve Districts of Panem are chosen at random to compete.
My best friend Lily thought she was drowning. Drowning in the Salton Sea. Even though the water was too polluted to set foot in, and left anything in their town either dying, or dead.
Lily? Are you okay? Hello...
Lily was determined to never let it get her.
[drops down into the bath water and starts screaming]
See more »
"Another Man Don' Gone (Traditional PD)"
Performed by 'Odetta' (av) and Larry
Courtesy of Fantasy Records
Used by permission of Concord Music Group Inc. See more »
First time director Elgin James infuses an admirable look to his debut project, Little Birds, by giving the screen a hazy, cloudy look which at times dims or flushes out the color of the picture, providing one with the idea that they are seeing a film that is far, far away from the mainstream breed. I imagine those poor lonely misfits that will be able to identify with Little Birds and connect with it on a much more personal level than I did will feel treated with wonderful cinematography in a film that so perfectly "describes them." All I can hope for is that the same lonely, ostracized misfits discover a film like Larry Clark's Kids or even his other film Bully and then truly get a deep understanding at how unexplainable and cruel adolescents can be to themselves and to others. Those two films offer more insights and reality and truly play more like horror films than a potboiler drama. To be fair, Little Birds achieves at what it sets out to be and for that one must admire it, but in the grand sea of films focusing on young teens rebelling against societal conventions, its, how hipsters say, somewhat uncool? Our story concerns Lily (Juno Temple), a rebellious adolescent who just can't seem to stay in line, living in a trailer park with her tramp of a mother (Leslie Mann) and only able to connect with her longtime friend Alison (Kay Panabaker). Her town is on the coast of the undesirable Salton Sea, which is literally, rapidly decaying because of pollution and other chemicals on the sand. One day, Lily and Alison meets some Los Angeles teens, one of them named Jesse (Kyle Gallner), who takes a liking to Lily. Alison is impassive with these teens, who prove to be nothing but hoodlums and degenerates. The only reason they ventured out to spend the day in Salton Sea was so that they could skate in empty pools.
Later on, Lily pesters Alison to steal her step-dad's pickup truck and head out to Los Angeles to meet the boys and have another day of fun. Reluctantly adhering to Lily's demand, the two girls spend the day getting into trouble, shoplifting, and going down the path of sheer ugliness before they get the brilliant idea to provoke sex-crazed strangers over the internet, which leads to rather frightening results. Yet during these scenes, which are equal parts tense and predictable, I was reminded at how captivated and cold I was during the key murder scene in Clark's Bully, which was so tense that it was hard to swallow. The idea of young teenagers being forced to commit senseless acts that offer no explanation solely because they're in the company of others who enjoy causing such acts made the experience all the more tense because of the fact that it shows how frighteningly far the boundaries of peer pressure can be pushed.
Little Birds, sadly, doesn't offer that same level of depth and substance that one should anticipate walking in. The performers are all capable, as my eyes never left the charismatic Juno Temple, and was delighted to see Kay Panabaker assume a challenging role in a confident fashion. Also good here in an unfortunately toned-down role is Kyle Gallner, who was fun to watch in Kevin Smith's Red State and poignant in the brief scenes in Shawn Ku's Beautiful Boy. And it's fair to say that Elgin James' direction always feel attentive on characters and mood and never feels sterile or anemic.
Little Birds is a solid and stable genre-exercise but nothing more. It undermines its true potential, and too often allows its characters to stew in just average material. I would've liked to see more scenes involving the teens attempting to make conversation with their parents and vice-versa. Shouting matches can get tedious, especially when you've seen a handful of films centered on rebellion.
It's also interesting to note that this makes young Juno Temple three for three in the game of "how many poor, listless trailer park characters can I play in films?" with the two home-runs Dirty Girl and Killer Joe already under her belt. I love Temple as an actress and feel she has attitude and charm that could stretch a mile wide, but perhaps in order to test her abilities more she should move up the social class food chain to either comfortably poor or low middle class. Even the most skilled and reliable typecast actors need a breath of fresh air.
Starring: Juno Temple, Kay Panabaker, Kyle Gallner, and Leslie Man. Directed by: Elgin James.
15 of 22 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?