By SEASON CRAVEN
‘The Starling,’ a newly released Netflix original film, stars Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd and Kevin Kline.
While McCarthy may be known for her comedic roles in ‘Gilmore Girls’ and ‘Bridesmaids,’ she gets to show off her dramatic muscles in an endearing role as a grieving mother.
The film begins with new parents, Lilly and Jack, playfully painting a baby’s room. It’s fortunate that the audience never sees the infant’s face though because we find out in the first 10 minutes that the baby has tragically died.
This sets the tone for the movie, which attempts to explore a serious subject while not becoming overly somber or dismal.
The rest of the film follows the grief process by examining the themes of loss, marriage, depression and healing.
Following the death of their child, Jack has been admitted to a psychiatric facility, and this leaves Lilly to navigate her grief alone.
The movie may sound heavy, but McCarthy works her magic by bringing a sense of self-deprecating humor that carries the film and prevents it from becoming too dark.
The title of the film comes from the name of the bird who torments the character of Lilly, with painful regularity.
The bird seems to represent grief itself, which is unwelcome, intrusive and wounding.
Even with this said, the scenes with McCarthy and the bird are entertaining and full of metaphors.
The best parts of the film for me were the scenes between McCarthy and Kline, who portrays a cynical yet kind therapist turned veterinarian. Kline’s character is genuine and fatherly, to the point that I wished there had been more backstory about his character.
This was a lost opportunity on the part of the writers, who could have made this role more three-dimensional and relatable.
Still, Kline is the therapist everyone wishes they could find in real life, direct, sincere, tender and honest all at once. His character is immensely likable.
I was wary of this film in the beginning, because I do not enjoy films about the loss of a child.
Often, this kind of film can become a heavy-handed tearjerker that feels manipulative with the audience’s emotions, but ultimately it was the starling that convinced me to stay with the movie.
From the first scenes with the bird, I believed that the film had something important to say, and that I would find whimsy and humor along with some expected heartache.
I was not disappointed, and instead I can say that I enjoyed this movie and didn’t even shed one tear.