The Starling movie review & film summary (2021)


The truth is that you might cry. It’s kind of hard not to when a drama centers people who have gone through the unimaginable grief of losing a child. I have three children and can’t really wrap my brain around it other than to say that I know I would simply be a completely different person. And yet the world doesn’t stop for people whose children die. Jack (Chris O’Dowd) can’t quite figure out how it hasn’t stopped, and eventually ends up at a psychiatric clinic. When Matt Harris’ script opens, Jack’s wife Lilly (Melissa McCarthy) is trying to hold it together for Jack’s return from the facility. She’s working at a grocery store (with a boss played by Timothy Olyphant in a role that makes you wonder why someone would cast such a recognizably charismatic performer in a non-role) and trying to maintain her family’s property, which leads to a few showdowns with a rambunctious bird, hence the title. She’s also driving two hours every week to see her husband and starting to wonder if he really wants to come home, and what life will be like when he does.

Lilly is in the very recognizable role of someone who prioritizes another’s grief without managing her own, and so a counselor at Jack’s clinic suggests she tend to her own mental health before her husband’s comes back into her daily life. This leads her into the office of a local veterinarian (Kevin Kline), who used to be a therapist but now espouses a somewhat cynical view of the profession. His new job will come in handy with the bird subplot, but he’s also really Lilly’s atypical advisor, someone who can speak to her without the same walls sometimes put up by his former profession.

The scenes between the Oscar-nominated McCarthy and Oscar-winning Kline are fascinating in the way they push and pull between what they’re capable of, and what they’ve been given by the script. Kline hints at back story that gives his role depth, but then his character returns to tedious clichés. Every piece of advice he gives Lilly seems tender because of Kline’s notable humanity on-screen, but also simplistic and designed to emotionally provoke the audience. It’s a film that’s constantly using its characters in ways that don’t feel genuine, and you can see the talented cast fight against it … and lose.

You can view the original article HERE.

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