Coming from director Roger Michell, Millenium Media and Screen Media Films is one family’s story of frustration, secrets, togetherness, love and the flight of the BLACKBIRD.
Lily (Susan Sarandon) and husband Paul (Sam Neill) love their house nestled away from the world. This day they are waiting for their family to arrive consisting of daughter Jennifer (Kate Winslet), husband Michael and their son Jonathan (Anson Boon). Also, the elusive daughter Anna (Mia Wasikowska) and friend Chris (Bex Taylor-Klaus). Rounding off the group is family friend Liz (Lindsay Duncan).
Having made the decision to end her life due to ALS, Lily wants to spend time with her family enjoying each other’s company. Paul, Jennifer, Liz and Michael understand and have accepted that these are her wishes but when Anna arrives, she makes it clear that there is no agreement from her.
The family has their first dinner together and it is uneasy filled with sarcasm hidden in humor. It is up to Jennifer to set Anna straight on what the plan is, and Paul informs Jonathan of what is going to happen. Thinking everything is in place, it starts to unravel when Jennifer does not understand what she has seen, Anna is full of revelations, Jonathan thinks it’s about time he has a say and Michael has a moment.
This was never going to be simple.
Sarandon as Lily is funny, quick, makes no excuses for what she wants and certainly is not going to let anyone stand in her way – not even the family. This is not the first time she has had to go up against family with a terminal illness. In 1998, she portrayed Jackie Harrison, a mother who discovers she is ill and prepare her two young children for that fact. In BLACKBIRD, it is the older kids with mommy issues as well as sibling rivalry that Sarandon’s character must deal with.
Neill as Paul is heartbroken as Lily’s decision but also knows it is just that – her decision. As a doctor he knows how to make her plan work and only wants her final days with the family to be filled with love. When Jennifer forces family issues, it is Neill that feels the pinch. Duncan as Liz is Lily’s longest friend and cannot imagine her life or death without her. They have a chance to reminisce about their crazy life and it brings them both joy.
Winslet as Jennifer is the daughter who wants to control everything and everyone one. Keeping her husband and son in line is just the beginning and from the moment of their arrival, she wants to take over Lily and sister Anna. For someone who wants control, she seems out of it herself. Wasikowska as Anna has plenty of secrets of her own and built up resentment is kicking in. Wasikowska continues to prove that she is a talented actress but then again, so is everyone in this cast.
Wilson as Michael is pretty much the ‘yes’ man and Trivial Pursuit person of the crowd and Taylor Klaus wants to help Anna the best way possible and that might mean going against her wishes. Boon as Jonathan learns what the weekend is really all about and takes moments to get to know his grandparents on different levels and shares a secret with Lily.
Screen Media is an international distributor and in 2017 Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment, Inc. acquired Screen Media which is in its 23rd year as a leading global independent distribution company. With one of the largest independently-owned libraries of filmed entertainment in the world and license agreements across all forms of media, Screen Media’s distribution capability enables direct distribution of all rights in all countries, thus enhancing the profitability of Chicken Soup for the Soul Entertainment productions. The company is continually looking to add films and television series to its content library.
The film is a retelling of the 2014 Danish film STILLE HJERTE (Silent Heart) with director Bille August and writer Christian Torpe.
BLACKBIRD is such a stunning story of a family because it does not hold back any punches. Beginning with Lily’s decision to call the shots and I whole heartedly believed in her right to choose. Having the backing of Paul and Jennifer made it seem like it was all taken care of. Of course, when you add more people to the mix, you add more emotions, resentments, conflicts and those who think they know better.
That is where the film takes off like a rocket. The mixture becomes the focus instead of Lily’s wishes as everyone seems to want to avoid what is going to take place whether they like it or not. The cast is exceptional in their performances touching on personal issues of life and death as well as how kids perceive their parents. Here are three generations that have an opinion on that.
The film takes place in the house with a few outside exceptions and that in itself is like a tinderbox of emotions so buckle up, it’s going to get loud, accusational and a curves in a life that isn’t a straight road by any stretch.
In the end – every family has its story!