The Starling – Film Review
By Fran Winston
Directed by: Theodore Melfi
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd, Timothy Olyphant, Daveed Diggs, Skyler Gisondo, Laura Harrier, Rosalind Chao, Loretta Devine, Kevin Kline.
Available on Netflix September 24th
This boasts a high-profile cast telling the story of Lilly (McCarthy) and Jack (O’Dowd) as they deal with the aftermath of their child’s death. While Lilly tries to get on with her life in the real world, dealing with her guilt on a daily basis, while Jack suffers a breakdown and is being cared for in a mental health facility. When a starling nests in her garden it is the straw that breaks the camel’s back and she becomes obsessed with killing it, leading her to encounter psychologist turned vet Dr Larry Fine (Kline). The two form an unlikely bond as they help each other confront their personal issues.
You’ve probably gathered from the synopsis that this is aiming for sweet and heart-wrenching, but it’s actually saccharine. This layers it on so thickly that I was afraid that I might go into a diabetic coma. Mix that with the heavy-handed melodrama that runs throughout and you have a recipe that simply cannot prove satisfying.
Many elements of the script make no sense whatsoever. As an audience, we are asked to accept a lot. While it is fine to take a certain degree of dramatic licence but when the whole story starts relying on it, you’re in trouble.
The entire cast looks awkward throughout. I was excited to see Kline back on screens as he is a fine actor but his role doesn’t do justice to his talents or range. Ditto Daveed Diggs who has very little to do here and seems to have been employed merely to attract his Hamilton fan base. McCarthy and O’Dowd have very little chemistry and it is impossible to believe they are a married couple – even one that has been through a terrible trauma and are fractured.
This is unmemorable and unmoving. It doesn’t engage you on an emotional level despite the heavy subject matter and is extremely predictable. Part of the problem seems to be that it can’t decide if it wants to be a dark comedy or a serious drama. It tries, unsuccessfully to veer between the two making for a confusing mish mash. Without the big names attached this would be a run of the mill Lifetime movie.