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White Bird in a Blizzard, Gregg Araki’s New Film


Always rebellious Gregg Araki has turned towards a cinematographic reality of imagination and memory.

Elaborating desperate, expressive cries at the beginning of his career, and giving a voice to the confused post-Gen X, Gregg Araki was an independent queer filmmaker who greatly influenced the aesthetics discourse of his age, Additionally, with works such as The Doom Generation (1995) and Nowhere (1997), he endowed film with freshness through his articulate gaze at a youth that was more alternative than the so-called alternative music of the time.

In his last two films, Araki became interested in expanding his audience to a less specific crowd, which is even more evident in his White Bird in a Blizzard (2014). Perhaps this is why he turned to first rate commercial actors like Shailene Woodley (The DescendantsThe Fault in our Stars) and Eva Green (Penny Dreadful, Dark Shadows).

In the film, mother and daughter never share the same present because we are actually inside Kat Connor’s (Shailene Woodley) head, who was given that name because her mother always wanted a pet. Although she had always been an absent mother, Eve Connor (Eva Green) took off one day to never come back, and has been missing for years. We will only know her through Kat’s insipid memories and through her allegoric, imaginary times, in which her mother appears naked and lying below snowflakes that continue to fall from the sky. These imaginary and metaphoric sequences are intertwined with chapters from Kat’s memory, provoked by her psychologist, Dr. Thaler (Angela Bassett). In Thaler’s office, Kate joins the past and present, and with her we give meaning to the mystery of the disappearance, experiencing with her the ignorance of her mother’s whereabouts, her confusion before a past that harasses her.

Araki’s work is reminiscent of Alain Resnais’, whom, through his character memories or reveries (Hiroshima Mon Amour, Last Year in Marienbad) he questioned the nature of reality. In the case of White Bird, the colors guide us through the surroundings and fabrics of the costumes, through the manner in which they are combined to create passageways in our perception; which turn to the rhythm of what we perceive of the same characters after their different behaviors.

It is important to note that this film only acquires its full meaning in the last minutes. Its final sequence is outstanding, both in aesthetic and narrative terms. An exploration of the distance between mother and daughter, their development and their final transformation into a memory.

Araki turns any sentimental landscape nostalgic, as ethereal as Cocteau Twins’ music and all the 1990s shoegaze of the 4AD label, which floods the eternally teenage soundtrack.

In White Bird in a Blizzard, it is possible to see Woodley use bodily postures to explore general and intermediate planes, with her role as a mother at home and, at the same time, witness her transformation into a mature woman on screen ––one who sexually competes with her own mother in her memories, exactly as it happens in real life with mothers and daughters.


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