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Blackbird

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

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

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.

Popular on Variety

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

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