Shailene Woodley stars in White Bird in a Blizzard, a deeply psychological murder mystery that takes place inside a teenage girl’s own home just as she’s experiencing a sexual awakening.
Adapted from the novel by Laura Kasischke, White Bird in a Blizzard is about a teenage girl, Kat Connor (Shailene Woodley), who becomes responsible for solving her own mother’s disappearance and possible murder. The fact that her dad, Brock (Christopher Meloni), is totally despondent isn’t helping Kat cope.
Before mother Eve’s disappearance, however, things were pretty tense at the Connor home. When Kat starts dating her hunky, man-meat neighbor Phil (Shiloh Fernandez), Eve begins to compete for his attention by dressing in lingerie and attempting to seduce him, leaving Kat feeling completely grossed out and betrayed.
When Kat comes home from school a few days later, she finds her mother completely unscrewed, so it’s not surprising that Kat isn’t too upset when her mother simply disappears. Teens always appreciate a breather from Mom, particularly from one who’s behaving in such a foul manner.
But like any normal suburban teen, Kat soon begins to miss her mother and wonders why her dad isn’t returning case investigator Detective Sciezeisciez’s (Thomas Jane) phone calls.
Kat takes it upon herself to follow up with the detective, finding she has some taboo chemistry with the much older man when she starts to show up at his apartment late at night. Of course, we can’t blame her, given that Thomas Jane is incredibly hot, but there’s a lot more going on. Kat is looking to separate emotionally from her father, and somehow, the detective can help her free herself from him. The sex is reactionary but extremely important because it’s sex that’s at the very heart of this mystery. In fact, the sex becomes the only path to solving the deadly enigma.
The thrill of White Bird in a Blizzard is when the characters — Mom, Dad, Kat and the detective included — act on primal impulses instead of following their higher, more logical selves. There’s so much dysfunction and sexual repression in the Connor home, it’s no wonder every family member goes off the rails.
We the audience discover the shocking family secret along with Kat in a satisfying culmination of physical evidence and Freudian slip-ups. Any murder mystery that takes place in a house with a prominent full-size freezer in the basement has us intrigued. And the surprising motive for murder isn’t one you’ll see in any mainstream Hollywood film. Leave it to indie director Gregg Araki to reach deep into the American psyche and hold up a full-length mirror to expose its darkly delicious menace.
White Bird in a Blizzard opens in theaters Oct. 24.