I accidentally stumbled upon a new movie on Netflix this week. I had high hopes that The Starling would deliver much needed, easily accessible insight on the subject of child loss, given the cast and platform.
It stars Melissa McCarthy as Lilly, wife to husband Jack, played by Chris O’Dowd. They are the parents of an infant child we never meet named Katie. This is the first place the movie didn’t meet my expectations—we don’t know how old the child actually was or what happened.
Lilly works at a supermarket, where she seems to channel her grief through incessantly stacking food items, while seeming a million miles away. Jack is a former elementary school Art teacher, who is now in a psychiatric institution, following the attempt to end his own life after the death of their daughter. Again, no clear timeline of how soon after the tragedy he does this is even suggested, which only added to my dislike column.
Lilly visits Jack once a week for family time. Their marriage is strained, to say the least, and it is obvious they haven’t even attempted to share with each other their sorrow. Lilly has been referred to a veterinarian, played well by Kevin Klein, for therapy.
Yes, I said veterinarian…
He had retired from the mental health field, but Jack’s own doctor at the institution referred Lilly to him, because of his incredible past work.
Meanwhile, a territorial starling has invaded Lilly’s neglected garden space, attacking her several times. The starling ends up being the catalyst of a life lesson; that the bird is out of her control and she will simply have to live with it…or not! She begins trying to figure out how to “off” the poor fowl in the most humane way possible.
Although the movie doesn’t suggest that grief can be compared to living with an unwanted varmint, it does a great disservice to the message of acceptance and depression, which are real, common emotions and feelings of grief. This movie could have done so much more, and given a voice to those of us who suffer this horrible grief. I’m sad to say I will not recommend it to others.
Director: Theodore Melfi
Writer: Matt Harris
Stars: Melissa McCarthy, Scott MacArthur, Timothy Olyphant, Skyler Gisondo, Kevin Kline
Running Time: 1h 42m
Genres: Comedy, Drama