The Starling (2021)

The Starling
Director: Theodore Melfi
Writer: Matt Harris
Cast: Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd, Kevin Kline, Timothy Olyphant, Daveed Diggs, Skyler Gisondo, Laura Harrier
Seen on: 5.11.2021

Lilly (Melissa McCarthy) and Jack (Chris O’Dowd) used to be very happy, but they aren’t anymore. Jack is in a psychiatric hospital, and Lilly is barely holding it together at work and at home. When a starling takes up residence in her garden and starts attacking her to defend its nest, Lilly can’t handle this at all. But her rage at the bird also sets things in motion again for her, and maybe even for Jack.

The Starling is sweet, touching and even funny, despite the very heavy topic it takes on. But it does so with a constant sense of hope, even at the worst time, and it’s just really beautiful to watch.

The film poster showing Lilly (Melissa McCarthy) lying on a lounge chair outside in the garden, a starling sitting on her shoulder.

The Starling is a bit of a tearjerker, that’s for sure,but in the best sense of the word. It covers a highly emotional topic and it’s only right that it would provoke some tears. Unlike many films that seem to be dead-set on making you cry, this is just a side-effect here and not the main event.

It’s easy to care about Lilly and Jack (beautifully played by McCarthy and O’Dowd whose connection feels deep and real, even when their characters struggle with each other), and to empathize with them. You want them to make it through the terrible tragedy they suffered and that put them in the situation they find themselves in now. Desperately.

Lilly (Melissa McCarthy) and Jack (Chris O'Dowd) walking together.

Using the starling as a catalyst to shake them out of where grief has frozen them, especially Lilly, was a very clever device, and not just because it came with psychotherapy, albeit an unconventional one, emphasizing that therapy is helpful and can be necessary. Sometimes random things trigger something. Sometimes, those random things are the way we can work through things because it means things get moving again. Unfortunately, the starling itself was focused on a little too much, which would have been okay, had the CGI been a bit better.

Other than that, though, I really enjoyed The Starling and warmth it exudes. There is hope here. People can work through the most horrible shit and even if it changes them, it doesn’t mean that it destroys them or their love. And that’s something we can all need to hear from time to time.

Lilly (Melissa McCarthy) holding a starling with bandaged wings.

Summarizing: really good.

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