How many times have you witnessed a loved one wither away due to a debilitating illness or disease like Cancer or ALS? How helpless did you feel as their pain and discomfort increase with every waking day? This is a reality more often than not. If it were your life, would you want to burden those you love? Would you want them to remember you as vibrant and full of life?
Not long ago, I was experiencing excruciating headaches that barely allowed me to function. After several tests, it was determined by one doctor that brain surgery was imminent. When asked if my memory, motor skills or speech would be affected, I was promptly informed that would definitively be the case. After a second opinion, my diagnosis and prognosis was drastically different. In the aftermath of the madness, I pondered what my life would look like if I couldn’t remember my life, who I loved, who loved me, how to walk, talk or navigate the life I have fought so hard to live. It’s an existence and reality that thankfully never came to fruition.
Lily (Susan Sarandon) is dying. She and Paul (Sam Neill) mutually summon loved ones to their beach house for one final gathering before Lily finalizes her long battle with ALS. The couple plans a weekend complete with holiday traditions. But, the mood becomes ominous and strained when unresolved issues surface between Lily and her daughters Jennifer (Kate Winslet) and Anna (Mia Wasikowska).
There’s so much to unpack here. Besides the theme of assisted suicide from a husband/doctor, we have a lesbian daughter who is bi-polar, a grandson in the closet about being an actor and a best friend who is called out with super venom. Directed by Roger Mitchell with Screenplay from Christian Torpe. Blackbird is a remake of the 2014 Danish film “Silent Heart” and as impressive as the cast is the material doesn’t seem to quite hold up to the performances of the stellar cast.
Susan Sarandon does understated better than anyone and this performance is no different. She provides Lilly with a quiet dignity that is quite lovely to watch. Kate Winslet is practically unrecognizable with dark hair and glasses, but equally effective in her role. Bex Taylor-Klaus’ screen time is brief, but the moment she shares with Winslet explaining why she stood by Anna during the toughest chapters of her life are touching and heartwarming. Not to mention that for once we actually have someone bi-nary portraying a character who is bi-nary as well.
Blackbird’s leading lady Susan Sarandon’s Lilly adequately exudes the meaning of its title. A Blackbird is a spiritual animal, extremely smart and intelligent repenting peace, transformation, freedom and power. Angels often appear to us in form of birds and now Lilly is a guardian angel for those she has loved and who loved her. Produced by Screen Media Films, Blackbird can be streamed right now