Currently streaming on Netflix from director Theodore Melfi comes a story of loss, grief and dealing with THE STARLING.
Lilly (Melissa McCarthy) and husband Jack (Chris O’Dowd) are dealing with a loss in their family. Jack is so distraught that he is in a facility to receive therapy and medication. Lilly deals with her anxiety by working at the local supermarket being watched over by boss Travis (Timothy Olyphant).
It is suggested to Lilly that she seek therapy of her own with Dr. Larry Fine (Kevin Kline) once therapist turned small town veterinarian. Their connection is cock-eyed at best but going home she realize that her home is surrounded by painful memories. Making a change Lilly decides to put a garden in her front yard.
Digging and planting, she is side swiped by a starling who is not happy about her presence. Lilly is not about to let a bird stop her and the battle between human and bird is on! What Lilly does not realize is that the universe works in mysterious ways. Seeing Dr. Fine and dealing with a starling along with a husband Jack and his issues, she becomes more and more aware of what she wants for her life.
This is where grief and happiness learn to co-exist!
McCarthy as Lilly is her usual hysterical self but, in this role, there is also an element of grief that, although may cause a few chuckles, is completely understandable. What Lilly learns in this process is that everyone grieves differently and once that is accepted, healing can begin. McCarthy is sweet, brave, understanding but bubbling underneath the surface is her own anger and when it comes to the surface – stand back!
O’Dowd as husband Jack is so swallowed up by grief that he does not see that his wife is struggling as well. He finds reasons to stay as it is which means he does not have to accept the challenge of continuing on with life which is the goal. The telephone scene between O’Dowd and McCarthy is so tender and yet strong because it is the turning point for them both and I loved it.
Kline as Dr. Fine is quirky and yet under that is a compassion he is sees for Lilly and Jack. Its not that Lilly does not take pot shots at him because boy does she, yet Kline’s character sees the potential for them both. It is so good to see Kline in a film again doing what he does best, being that voice and figure of reason when everyone else has gone a little mad.
Shout out to Olyphant as the supermarket manager who always has something interesting to say at the wrong times. Also, to Skyler Gisondo as Dickie, a young man who befriends Lilly and is curious about the starling. Finally, to Loretta Devine who cracked me up as Velma.
Other cast include Daveed Diggs as Ben, aura Harrier as Sherri, Rosalind Chao as Fawn, Kimberly Quinn as Regina, Jesse Garcia as Hector, Edi Patterson as Margie, Emily Tremaine as Alice and Ravi Kapoor as Dr. Manmohan.
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THE STARLING is a charming, heart-felt film that does not forget to make us laugh, even about things that are uncomfortable in this life. McCarthy handles herself in a way that reminds me – well, of me! That is her uncanny quality, to take on serious roles that are relatable. If you have not watched her in the series Nine Perfect Strangers playing Francis Welty, then you are really missing something wonderful.
O’Dowd gives us the other side of the coin as a man who climbs inside his emotions and lives there in grief. He refuses to see things through the eyes of his wife and that’s how deep his sadness goes. It is a dark place to be and O’Dowd does not hold back giving us another grief perspective.
The cast is wonderful together and I absolutely adored the scenes between McCarthy and Kline. Their repartee had a bit of a snippy bite on McCarthy’s side, but Kline’s character held his ground. Kline gives his character the understanding that grief can bring out the worst in human nature, but compassion is there waiting when they are ready.
The interaction between Lilly/McCarthy and the starling is creative, clever and hilarious. This is another battle to be fought but there comes a moment when both human and bird realize that a compromise of emotion needs to be reached, yet a starling will always be a starling.
THE STARLING is a film to enjoy for all reasons.
In the end – hope starts small!