In Films by Samuel Love

With an all-star cast including Kate Winslet, Susan Sarandon and Sam Neill, it’s shocking that the wonderful Blackbird has had such a tiny release. In a non-Covid parallel universe, this could’ve been one of the biggest dramas of the year.

From director Roger Michell (Notting Hill) comes an English-language remake of Danish film Silent Heart, here adapted by the former film’s screenwriter Christian Torpe. The plot is minimal – a family gets together for one last hurrah before the matriarch (Sarandon) succumbs to her devastating illness. Playing out more like a voyeuristic snapshot of a normal family’s emotional weekend, there are no huge revelations or game-changing twists in the film. But therein lies its charm. This is a film that feels genuine and full of authenticity with one of the most developed casts of characters you’ll find at the movies this year.

The entire cast of Blackbird are utterly terrific – while the majority of the actors are no strangers to such emotional material, special praise should go to The Office’s Rainn Wilson who confidently measures up with the likes of Winslet, Sarandon, Neill and Mia Wasikowska. Each performer is given a fully-fleshed out role to explore, each with their own hopes, dreams and pain. The chemistry between the entire cast feels genuine, and as a result, we as an audience totally buy that these people truly are family.

A hauntingly beautiful cello score from Peter Gregson adds weight and emotion to proceedings, while Mike Eley’s wonderful cinematography pulls us inside the seaside home where the majority of the proceedings unravel – interestingly, the film was shot in West Sussex near Winslet’s home but framed within the narrative as The Hamptons.

Blackbird is a truly beautiful drama about love, family, pain, regret and everything in between. As each of the characters subtly go through the five stages of grief, we too reflect on our own lives and how short they truly are. The film is an inspiring reminder to live life to the fullest and stop to enjoy the little things – because one day, it will become clear they were the big things after all.

This stunning family drama boasts some of 2020’s finest performances, and will almost certainly be remembered as one of the best films of the year.