The Starling is an extremely emotional film that focuses on dealing with grief, and how to overcome dark thoughts while going through it.
The Starling is an emotional movie pretty much from start to finish. If you have lost a child, be careful going into this one because it is sure to be triggering — although possibly a bit cathartic as well. The lesson to be learned in this movie is how everyone deals with grief differently and you just have to be patient with one another, especially if you want to remain in each other’s lives. It also shows how important it is to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and understand that they are grieving as well.
Lilly (Melissa McCarthy) and her husband Jack (Chris O’Dowd) lose their young daughter at the beginning of the movie, and Jack ends up in a psychiatric home to deal with it. Lilly continues to work and live at home by herself. To keep her occupied she starts to work on the garden again, but is immediately attacked by a territorial bird, a Starling. The bird launches her into an all out war at first, but overtime becomes an avenue for her to grieve and heal, along with the help of a veterinarian.
As the story goes on, and the plot thickens, there are some aspects of The Starling that will truly tug at heartstrings. Perhaps you have felt like Lilly or Jack before, and it might not even be because of the death of a child or loved one. Without getting into spoilers there are certainly some other things that viewers can relate to, and have dealt with in their lives.
The way that these moments are showcased in this movie are done very well. They aren’t there to poke fun or put down, they are there to show people this is something many others deal with and go through, and to not be ashamed of it. While the movie focuses on dealing with grief, it is so much more than that. But be warned, tears will be shed — more than once.
Each and every one of the supporting characters plays their role perfectly, while allowing the three main characters to shine. With such sensitive subject matter the writing and dialogue can be difficult, but the script here covers things perfectly, and gets the point across that it is trying to.
Melissa McCarthy is the standout performance in The Starling. She is able to bring a light humor to the story, but doesn’t go over the top with anything. This is a testament to the script as well, allowing the hard, emotional moments to be there, and not to be overshadowed by humor and silliness. But having the laughs there to break up the intense moments is important, and helps to make this movie a positive one. And even a joy to watch, which is hard to do when it focuses around the death of a young child.
The Starling is something that everyone dealing with grief should try to watch at some point or another in their life. If only to let them see that others go through it as well. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, and it is okay to seek help — in a home, from a doctor, or just from those around you.
About The Starling
After Lilly (Melissa McCarthy) suffers a loss, a battle with a territorial bird (The Starling) over dominion of her garden provides an unlikely avenue for her grief and the courage to heal her relationships and rediscover her capacity for love.
THE STARLING releases in select theaters on Friday, September 17th and on Netflix Friday, September 24th.
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Tessa Smith is a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved Film and TV Critic. She is also a Freelance Writer. Tessa has been in the Entertainment writing business for almost ten years and is a member of several Critics Associations including the Critics Choice Association, Hollywood Critics Association, and the Greater Western New York Film Critics Association.