Review: ‘Blackbird’

With dialogue, performances and visual style reminiscent of a subpar After School Special, this bird won't migrate far from home.

A sensitive but rebellious teen from a dysfunctional family pays a heavy price for his willfulness in the sluggish drama “Blackbird,” the feature debut of Canadian helmer-writer Jason Buxton. Mixing the genre cliches of the coming-of-ager and juvenile prison pic to queasy effect, the narrative centers on a bullied Goth in rural Nova Scotia accused of plotting a Columbine-style massacre when he follows the school social worker’s advice to work out his revenge fantasies by writing them down. With dialogue, performances and visual style reminiscent of a subpar Afterschool Special, this bird won’t migrate far from home.

Sent to live with his hunting-and-hockey-loving father (Michael Buie), in a burg where being different is not appreciated, 16-year-old Sean (Connor Jessup) stands out, with his black nail polish and piercings. When he dares to think he has a chance with preppy princess Deanna (Alexia Fast), her jock boyfriend beats him up, but ultimately it is Sean who is deemed a danger to the community. Bundled off to a juvenile prison, he falls prey to mini-psychopath Trevor (Alex Ozerov). The undernourished craft package accentuates the film’s overall lack of flair.

Blackbird

Canada

Production

An A71 Prods., Story Engine Pictures, Festina Lente Prods. production with support from Telefilm Canada, Shaw Rocket Fund, Film Nova Scotia, Super Channel. (International sales: Film Boutique, Berlin.) Produced by David Miller, Marc Almon, Jason Buxton. Executive producers, Thom Fitzgerald, Chad Maker. Directed, written by Jason Buxton.

Crew

Camera (color), Stephanie Weber-Biron; editor, Kimberlee McTaggart; music, Asif Illyas, Shehab Illyas; production designer, Bill Fleming; costume designer, Kate Rose; sound (Dolby Digital), Zan Rosborough. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Discovery), Sept. 7, 2012. Running time: 103 MIN.

With

Connor Jessup, Michael Buie, Alex Ozerov, Alexia Fast.

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