Blackbird is a politely made film in search of meaning it’s never able to find.

“We’ve seen a similar version of every element here before: the give-no-fucks terminally ill matriarch who quips rather than mopes, the repressed married sister who clashes with her freewheeling younger gay sibling, the reserved teen who finally comes out of his shell, the lesbian girlfriend whose interests include football and beer and the loyal husband who suffers in silence.

“It’s boringly reheated and writer Christian Torpe, who also wrote the Danish film this is based on, doesn’t have much in his arsenal other than a few lame attempts at gallows humour and so relies heavily on the actors to do the heavy lifting.

“But Kate Winslet is miscast, Susan Sarandon is coasting, Sam Neill is sleepwalking and Mia Wasikowska, an extremely talented yet recently underused actor, is stuck playing the sort of role she should have grown out of by now.

“Also, are we really still associating rebellion with being gay and having a buttoned-up lifestyle with being straight? A far more interesting dynamic would have switched the sisters’ sexuality but that would have required thinking outside of a very small box.

“The most interesting actor on screen is a soulful Lindsay Duncan as Lily’s old friend; a more interesting film would have focused on that pairing above the undercooked family drama that unfolds. It’s never really possible to buy into the characters as a family given how thinly etched their relationships are to one another, and so when the inevitable fireworks arrive, it’s more like someone waving a sparkler in your face.” — from Benjamin Lee’s Guardian review, posted on 9.17.19.