The new Netflix drama, The Starling directed by Theodore Melfi feels like a light take laced with comedy about the loss of a child. It feels like a version of Mundruczó’s Pieces of a Woman where instead of Vanessa Kirby’s emotional performance depicting a silent form of coping, this film takes Melissa McCarthy’s help to deliver the right punchlines as a form of defence mechanism while grieving. The film is about two hours long with a beautiful OST that always lights you up.
Written by Matt Harris, the film stars Melissa McCarthy as its leading lady in the character of Lilly Maynard, followed by Chris O’Dowd who plays her husband Jack Maynard and Kevin Kline as the therapist-turned-vet Dr. Larry Fine. Alongside these brilliant faces, the film also features a passerine bird known as Starling (created through CGI) who plays a beautiful role in binding all the characters together.
– Netflix’s The Starling Review does not contain spoilers –
The Starling: Relationships & Rediscovery
Netflix’s The Starling essentially focuses on the theme of loss and the subsequent grief the follows. The story revolves around Lily and Jack who have recently lost their newborn daughter, Katie. As the opening credits roll and we get a glimpse of the feisty bird Starling, who has made its nest on a tree in Lily’s garden, we understand how the couple is estranged due to the loss they’ve suffered.
The film is not wrapped with surprises and climaxes at every turn. However, it has its own set of epiphanies that sets it aside be it Dr. Larry subtly helping Lily to understand the grieving process or, Jack trying to confront his suicidal demons. At every nook, there is a string that tugs at your heart as you proceed through this film.
The Starling has a different take in depicting different stages of a grieving process. We have Jack who is unhinged like a pendulum going from depressed to angry and vice versa in a matter of moments. We have Lily who is bargaining and angry as we get to understand through the relationship with the bird in her garden. Both these characters are trying to figure a way out of the hole that has swallowed them since Katie’s demise.
A journey of mending relationships and rediscovering oneself is what The Starling mostly focuses on beneath its layered humour.
The Starling: Coping
The loss faced by Lily and Jack is irreparable and unimaginable, so much so that even talking about Katie acts like an emotional trigger at one point or another. Yet, how do these two characters cope?
Initially, they simply don’t. Lily tries hard to fit back into her life and act normal. She prioritizes her husband’s grief over her own. Jack, on the other hand, locks himself up and away from reality in the solace of a psychiatric clinic. He overlooks his wife’s efforts of getting back to normal life and mistakes for the opposite of grief.
For the longest time, the film revolves around the question of “How to cope?”. Even the therapists in this story are real and human enough to not have the answers to all the questions. The entire process of coping starts somewhere in the middle of the film when the husband-wife duo faces a rift, educating the audience on how to arrive at the moment of healthy coping is as difficult as it gets for people overwhelmed with grief.
The Starling: Final Verdict
Dr. Larry says to Lily during the course of the film, “It’s not about Katie. It’s about Jack and you. How do you restart?”
The Starling is truly about what people are left with when their loved ones leave and how life gets jammed at a point and you cannot seem to move on. The Starling is about that point and how to get that jumpstart to get back to your life. Sure, it will be different but, you’d still have to try.
You can watch The Starling now on Netflix.