Gregg Araki has always been known for making avant-garde or at least mildly offensive films (see: The Doom Generation, Mysterious Skin and Smiley Face). His latest offering, White Bird in a Blizzard, however, is somewhat on the tamer side by Araki standards. Adapted from Laura Kasischke's 1999 novel of the same name, Araki shows us the bland, desolate life of San Bernardino housewife Eve Connor (Eva Green, always great for playing non-maternal roles). Though she's always displayed signs of dissatisfaction, her behavior of late has seemed particularly neurotic to her 17-year-old daughter, Kat (Shailene Woodley, revealing a surprising comfortableness with nudity throughout the film).
Regardless of how outlandish her mother acts, Kat is immune to her tantrums, more concerned with her boyfriend/next door neighbor, Phil (Shiloh Fernandez), and their waning sex life. It's around the time that Kat becomes more focused on her libido that her mother starts lashing out at her in a way that indicates jealousy over Kat's youth and general desirability. Lamenting the loss of her own life and the living out of days making dinner and washing dishes, Eve grows more contemptuous by the day.
Right around the time Eve's fury reaches some sort of plateau/zenith/crescendo, she simply disappears. The cop in charge of the case, Detective Scieziesciez (Thomas Jane), serves not only as the man trying to find Kat's mother, but also as the man who ends up fucking her pain away, much to the delighted startlement of her best friends, Beth (Gabourey Sidibe a.k.a. Precious) and Mickey (Mark Indelicato a.k.a. Betty's little brother on Ugly Betty). Although Kat appears nonchalant about her mother's vanishing, especially to her therapist, Dr. Thaler (Angela Bassett, proving Araki loves to dig up those we thought we had lost), her series of dreams/nightmares about being caught in a blizzard and searching for Eve indicate an undeniable trauma.
Determined to move on with her life, Kat suppresses the memories of 1988 (this is the year her mother leaves them) and carries on in a totally well-adjusted manner by the time 1991 rolls around and she's attending UC Berkeley. Unfortunately for Kat, a trip back home for a break leads her to uncover revelations she wasn't prepared for (plus, Sheryl Lee enters into the mix, giving us a slight preview of Twin Peaks). Although the story contains plenty of intrigue and a plotline that always holds your interest, there is something about the disinterested way in which Araki reveals the final twist that makes White Bird in a Blizzard somehow lesser when compared to his other works. Nonetheless, as can always be counted on with an Araki film, the soundtrack is primo (even though he features the requisite playing of New Order because part of the movie takes place in the 80s).