Eye For Film >> Movies >> Blackbird (2007) Film Review
Reviewed by: Susanna Krawczyk
Many young women have gone naively down the path that leads to the sex industry, expecting it to be easy cash for little work, expecting it to be empowering and completely unaware of the dangers and exploitation that are endemic within the business. It would also be fair to say that Froggy (played astonishingly compellingly by Gillian Jacobs) is not one of them. Despite her tender years (she says she’s “older than she looks”, but since she looks about 13 this is no real comfort), she is already hardening against the hurt that men inflict on women, the extremes that lack of food and money can drive people to, and the slow degeneration of hard drug abuse.
The scenes on this film are dark and murky, lit only with stripclub neon and streetlights shining through broken windows. Froggy is warned by her fellow dancer and flatmate not to bring home any guys from the club where they work, but when she meets heroin-addict Baylis (Paul Sparks), nearly twice her age but endearingly respectful in comparison to the club’s other regulars (he is happier to hand her money directly while looking her in the eye than to put it in her underwear) she flouts the rule and embarks with him on a relationship of sorts.
This is the heart of the story. The drug dealers and down-and-outs who people their world seem determined to drag Froggy and Baylis down, and while they strive to rise above the trials of their situation they are all too vulnerable to the call of their addictions and of the casual contempt with which people treat each other, and especially the status of women in their social circles as property, as a commodity. This is the very thing that begins to tear them apart.
The soundtrack is fitting – melancholy songs played loudly to drown out everything, abruptly cut off by the changing scenes. The lyrics are reminiscent of maudlin country music, a genre that seems somewhat ridiculously melodramatic when compared to the genuine hardships of people’s everyday lives. Froggy strips in the club to songs about a sort of romance that she – and most likely everyone present – has never known. She and Baylis are well suited in some ways, but in others fundamentally unsuited to human relationships at all, victims of their own poor choices and the poor choices of the people who have power over them.
This is a melancholy film. There’s not much hope here and yet I still found myself waiting for something hopeful to appear. One for fans of unconventional love stories and those who seek out something other than the classic Hollywood ending.Reviewed on: 16 Aug 2007