Little Birds (2011)

R  |   |  Drama  |  9 January 2016 (Japan)
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Lily and Alison face a life-changing event after they leave their Salton Sea home and follow the boys they meet back to Los Angeles.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Alison Hoffman
Joseph Hoffman
Bob Larkin ...
Mr. Kovacs
Sally Heron
Ray Cawley
Jesse MacNamara
Louis Estes (as Carlos Pena)
David Riley
Shawna Cawley (as Lauren Whitney Pennington)
Female Cashier (as Lydia Blanco)
Marc Rose ...


Lily and Alison face a life-changing event after they leave their Salton Sea home and follow the boys they meet back to Los Angeles.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


How far would you go?



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for pervasive language, some violence including a sexual assault, sexuality/nudity, drug and alcohol use - all involving teens | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

9 January 2016 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Goodnight Moon  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$4,574 (USA) (31 August 2012)


$16,590 (USA) (14 September 2012)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Ryan Gosling is listed in the credits in gratitude for his cooperation. See more »


[first lines]
Alison: [narrating] 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.
Margaret Hobart: Lily? Are you okay? Hello...
Alison: Lily was determined to never let it get her.
[drops down into the bath water and starts screaming]
See more »


Written by Anton Newcombe
Performed by The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Published by Tepid Peppermint Wonderland LTD (ASCAP)
Courtesy of A Recordings LTD
See more »

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User Reviews

The best of it--Juno Temple at least--holds up the whole, which is always interesting and real
7 May 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Little Birds (2011)

A harrowing movie, a slice of very believable and scary life for two fifteen year olds looking to escape their awkward or dysfunctional families. What they get into, moving from the Salton Sea to L.A. in a stolen truck, is a nightmare for any parent. Yet for the girls there is a mixture of adventure and discomfort.

All of this depends a lot on a great ensemble cast, which is pretty much here. The two girls are terrific--I had just seen Juno Temple in another excellent indie and sought this out. The boys they run into and hook up with are a little wild at first (and then more wild later) and weave into the story with surprising ease.

This is a low budget movie but it makes the most of a series of scenes inside and out that keep it from feeling constrained. The Salton Sea parts are both beautiful an so impoverished they are sad. When the edge of L.A. comes in it's rougher and yet filled with energy. The girls are divided on how the city works on them. Temple's character is exudes confidence, and sometimes has it, too, and so she gets in deeper. The other girl, played by Kay Panabaker, is more morally solid and yet more scared, and she plays a perfect counterbalance to her friend.

Writer and director Elgin James is just starting out here (that's part of what Indie films are all about) and the movie might not soar or show particular originality, but it does hold up pretty well in normal dramatic terms. The sets are very real--gritty and rough, for sure--and the acting matches. It's quite well shot, too, if nothing special is going on--give the editors some of the credit for keeping it fluid.

You wonder by the end what the larger point might be, beyond a very distracting entertainment. There might be a little (a little) sense of "there's no place like home" at work. And there's a kind of buddy movie at work--the two girls being the pals on the road. Mostly it's about how tough some teens have it, and how they want to find ways to survive that surprise their parents (usually singular, parent). It's also a tale of how kids want a lot from everyone and everything--life seems so fertile and large--and how they know so little about how to get it.

So, with vulnerability on their sleeves, these girls are a little bit of all of us. No, we aren't all so fully stupid or careless, but maybe in small ways we are all the same.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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