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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Blackbird (M) - 98 minutes

Euthanasia comes under the microscope in the drama Blackbird.

The last days of a terminally ill woman Lily (Susan Sarandon), in her late 60s, are played out with her family and closest friend.

Her husband, Paul (Sam Neill), a doctor, has the medication, which is legal in several states, but not where they live.

He intends to administer it and make up a story to tell the police.

But before that the family, disparate though it is, gathers.

Older daughter Jennifer (Kate Winslet) is a strait-laced control freak.

Her husband Michael (Rainn Wilson) is a fact-sprouting nerd.

Their 15-year-old son Jonathan (Anson Boon) is trying to find his own way.

Lily’s other daughter Anna (Mia Wasikowska), has always been a problem child, seemingly lost, unable to stick to anything and settle down.

She and her sister Jennifer clash regularly.

Anna arrives with her younger, on-again, off-again girlfriend Chris (Bex Taylor-Klaus).

Elisabeth (Lindsay Duncan) is Lily’s oldest friend. They had their “wild” days. The pair went to college together, travelled together and shared experiences.

Now, over an early festive Christmas dinner, it is not all beer and skittles, although there are a few laughs.

We know something is wrong from the outset because Lily has lost the use of her left arm, she walks slowly and uncomfortably, and even a little activity tires her out.

There are awkward silences all around.

Blackbird is the work of Danish writer Christian Torpe and director Roger Michell (My Cousin Rachel).

It takes 20 minutes before it is made crystal clear what is going down.

By then you may have switched off ... and I can understand why you would.

Is the subterfuge really necessary? I hardly think so.

Not when the point of the movie is to discuss the action being taken and the dysfunctional family dynamic.

So, it takes quite some time for the film to pick up a gear.

Once it does, there are some pleasant and not so pleasant exchanges as we learn more about the “players”.

In amongst that there is food for thought for the audience, namely a God-forbid, “what would we do under the circumstances?” question.

Blackbird hardly sets the world on fire, but provides a few twists on a subject filled with angst.

Rated M, it scores a 6 out of 10.


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