After headlining two of 2014’s most successful female-led blockbusters so far, Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars, Shailene Woodley…um, diverges from her mainstream teen-idol status with White Bird in a Blizzard, the latest cult oddity from indie provocateur Gregg Araki.
An adaptation of Laura Kasischke’s 1999 novel, Blizzard casts Woodley as Kat Connor, whose ordinary suburban life undergoes a major transformation when she hits the tender age of 17. For starters, the former wallflower meets her first serious boyfriend and, as a result, gets very in touch with her body. The major event, though, comes when her eccentric mother (Eva Green) up and vanishes one afternoon. The mystery of her disappearance haunts both Kat and her suddenly single father (Christopher Meloni) over the next two years, even after she ditches her high-school sweetheart for an older guy, and then decamps for college.
Araki has a solid track record of guiding young actors through challenging emotional terrain; don’t forget that he was the director who relaunched Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s career back in 2004 with Mysterious Skin, which fearlessly tackled the difficult subject of child abuse. And just as that film required Gordon-Levitt to play some risqué scenes, White Bird in a Blizzard challenges Woodley to reveal more of herself than she has in the past.
But she welcomed that challenge, telling Esquire at the movie’s Sundance premiere earlier this year: “This script was so poetic, and dark, and thrilling, and different than anything I’d ever done. I also love the way [Gregg] treated sexuality. We hide so many things in America. I’m really keen on European culture, where sexuality is who they are. A friend of mine said ‘You know, there aren’t a lot of movies where you see a female chasing a male for sex, or a female that enjoys sex.’ And in this movie, she’s not just a female, but a young female chasing an older man for sex, not the older man chasing her. I thought that that was really refreshing. Whether it’s right or wrong — just to see that was cool.”
You can judge the movie’s coolness for yourself by watching the clip below and checking out the finished product when it’s released on iTunes September 25, followed by a theatrical roll-out October 24.