“The Starling,” a grief cliché

By: Minal Bista


Despite Melfi’s star studded star cast, “The Starling” falls short of expectations

Directed by Theodore Melfi and written by the debut writer Matt Harris, “The Starling,” feels like a sorrow-based hallmark movie where the endings are forced to be good. After Melfi’s last film, 2016’s “Hidden Figures,” there were great expectations for “The Starling.” These hopes were quickly dashed. 

Despite excellent actors, such as Melissa McCarthy and Kevin Kline and their well-played complex characters; the movie fails to engage audiences due to a weak storyline and plot.

“The Starling” is about a couple struggling after the death of their only child and how they are coping in two very different ways. Lilly (Melissa McCarthy) is doing her best to keep it together and is trying to go on with her life one step at a time while Jack (Chris O’Dowd) winds up in a psychiatric facility questioning the essence of life, after all that has happened. The film depicts their separate journey of self-realization and healing. Lilly strives to keep the house in order, but she has frequent run-ins with a raucous starling bird, which helps her learn things about herself. Meanwhile, Jack’s clinic advises Lilly to seek mental health treatment as well and, in that process, she encounters Larry (Kevin Kline), a psychotherapist turned veterinarian. Their interactions are engaging, but their trip isn’t fully explored and remains confined.

Emotions certainly get to me because losing a child is such a sensitive subject, but the fast clichéd conclusions didn’t sit right with me, revealing the film’s attempt at audience manipulation. It was disappointing to see how some of the most pleasant and accomplished actors in the world, such as Timothy Olyphant and Skyler Gisondo, were given so little to do in their roles. Similarly, there were many unanswered questions, particularly about Jack and Lilly’s relationship when they reunite after losing a loved one and mourning in two very different ways. 

Despite dealing with a highly sensitive and difficult issue, the film blatantly ends with a happy conclusion.  Overall, instead of forcing things and attempting to deceive the audience, the film could have done so much better with its narrative and great actors. The Starling receives a 2.5/5 from me.

Featured photo courtesy of IMDb.

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