Blackbird Down

Blackbird
RPL Theatre
June 14-16
1.5 out of 5

While you cannot help but sympathize with victims of bullying and violence in schools, there’s something disingenuous about movies that tackle the subject without having anything new to say.

One could describe Blackbird as a reverse We Need to Talk About Kevin, but that would be giving the film too much credit. In fact, the story barely qualifies as a special two-part episode of Degrassi.

Sean (Connor Jessup), the most boring Goth kid ever, has the brilliant idea to post a list of fellow students he’d like to see dead (including the entire school hockey team). He wasn’t planning to act on his fantasy, but adult paranoia and the worst lawyer in the world land him in a youth detention centre.

Sean quickly becomes a target for actual delinquents, forcing him to make decisions that invariably backfire. The only people who stand by him are his taciturn father and the girl (Alexia Fast) who triggered the outburst by being a puck-bunny. Against him, an entire community freaked out by the idea of their hockey heroes being wiped out by a disgruntled weirdo.

Blackbird is a compendium of every mistake first-time Canadian filmmakers make. The dialogue is painful and the characters cardboard figures (Sean’s mom is one for the record books). In case you miss the subtleties surrounding the kid’s predicament, writer/director Jason Buxton shows him reading Kafka. Get it? Because he’s in a Kafkaesque situation (groan).

Up-and-comers Jessup (Falling Skies) and Fast (Jack Reacher) show some range that bodes well for their future. May Blackbird be a learning experience, and not the pinnacle of their careers. /Jorge Ignacio Castillo

2013-06-13