Review: The Starling (#TIFF21)

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A well-acted exploration of grief and the fallout of tragic events, The Starling will pull you apart in many ways, yet it leaves you feeling as though there is more story to be told.

A woman (Melissa McCarthy) is working through her grief after the loss of her child while her husband (Chris O’Dowd) is struggling to find a path forward. McCarthy is raw and committed in her performance, blending believable emotional turmoil with light-hearted humor that only she can deliver. O’Dowd is also stripped of any of the charm he has had in past roles, necessarily so as he works to reconcile his feelings and look to the future. Together they carry a largely simple film that needed more meat to the bones. Many of the characters seemed undercooked, such as Kevin Kline’s veterinarian or Timothy Olyphant’s store manager. Even David Diggs has nothing more than a few scenes of involvement.

Having spoken with writer Matt Harris, I am aware of the fact that a very large portion of the film has been cut, a fact that is glaringly obvious as The Starling’s scattered focus never quite rectifies itself. It certainly misses the opportunity to say anything groundbreaking of specific about grief, but that that also is part of its charm; there isn’t a textbook way to deal with loss and it hits us all different. Still, a more complete journey would have made The Starling a standout.

The Starling is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: 3/5

Photo from Netflix

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