Blackbird (SIFF 2013)

See synopsis below

What I liked: Connor Jessup’s portrayal of Sean Reynolds, the troubled teen accused of plotting a mass murder at his high school. He gave Sean the deep layers of emotion I would expect to find in an adolescent: striving for individuality but also wants to fit in, desperately craving parental attention and approval, falling for a girl but tormented by the uncertainties of teen relationships, and so on. His acting is subtle, but impacting and I really liked it. The overall story was also very well done, and shows how fear of the different and the unknown can wind down a path of decisions that can’t be unwound. The hope at the end of the film comes in an unexpected way, but it is there and it was satisfying.

What I didn’t like: In general I liked pretty much everything about this film. There were a few times I complained about what I felt to be illogical procedure (police, court, juvenile detention), but in all fairness it is a Canadian film and they may do things differently there. It didn’t impact my enjoyment of the movie, though.

Final Verdict: I liked it a lot, it is current, and has a message. Recommended.

Provided Film Synopsis
In the wake of the Columbine and Newtown shootings, Jason Buxton's debut feature offers a timely, cautionary tale about the dangers of unchecked paranoia in the cyber-bullying age. Seeking to protect himself from a classmate, teen outcast Sean Randall (Connor Jessup) threatens him online and is almost immediately arrested. Certain that they have a Columbine-style killer on their hands, authorities place Sean in Waterville, one of the country's toughest youth prisons, as he awaits his trial. Frustrated by the bureaucratic delays of the court and the abuse suffered at the hands of fellow inmates, Sean agrees to take a plea deal in order to get released, but soon learns that the court of public opinion will not change its decision as quickly. Writer-director Buxton never cheapens the real-world stakes of his story by treating it simply like a generic thriller. Instead, he employs a chilling, incremental logic to show how one bad decision, coupled with a climate of fear, can lead to typical teen angst being misread as murderous intent. All the while, Jessup's subtle performance compliments Buxton's approach, showing Sean's growing maturation as he slowly discovers that the worst prisons are still the ones that we create for ourselves.

Movie Details

  • Directed By:

    • Jason Buxton
  • Cast Members:

    • Alex Ozerov
    • Alexia Fast
    • Connor Jessup
    • Michael Buie
  • Countries:

    • Canada
  • Languages:

    • English
  • Genres:

    • Crime/Mystery
    • Drama
    • Social Issues