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Rated 3.26 stars
by 212 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Another Movie That Matters
by Betty Jo Tucker

What a treat to see Melissa McCarthy become a splendid dramatic star! I know she showed her ability in this area by earning a 2018 Oscar® nomination for Can You Ever Forgive Me? But that could have been a fluke. However, she has always enjoyed playing complicated characters -- and in The Starling, she proves that her acting gifts go way beyond comedy. More power to her!  

I’m impressed by how McCarthy loses herself in the difficult role of Lilly, a wife and mother who faces a tragic loss in The Starling. She’s totally believable in every scene. In fact, we don’t want her to be a bit humorous in this compelling film. Her character tries to be strong. She doesn’t even want to talk about the tragedy. And she soldiers on --sometimes in a trance -- while her husband (Chris O’Dowd/Bridesmaids) receives care in a mental institution. The only thing that gets Lilly’s dander up involves a bird attack in her very own garden.       

“The Starling” deals with deepest grief

and the struggle for some relief.

Performances tug at your heart

watching a couple who might part.

Wife and husband use different ways

to get through sad and lonely days.

We empathize and wish them well.

This movie casts a wondrous spell.


Background music creates the tone.

And bits of humor stand alone.

A film like this deserves applause.

Humanity is its main cause

The film’s bit of humor comes courtesy of the always terrific Kevin Kline (The Last of Robin Hood). Kline portrays Dr. Larry Fine, a former therapist who decided to become a veterinarian. His scenes with the leading lady play like pure gold. As soon as he reluctantly agrees to talk with Lilly, their conversations intrigue us and we can’t help smiling. It’s definitely NOT traditional therapy!           

But back to the drama. Because of a surprise decision by her husband, Lilly finally shows her anger about something more important than an annoying bird. (I think this sequence should help McCarthy get attention during the upcoming awards season.)    

Written by Matt Harris (TV’s Scene of the Crime) and directed by Theodore Melfi (Hidden Figures), The Starling ends up being a movie that matters. Besides offering top-notch entertainment, it gives us a better understanding of the grieving process and how it works for different people. Plus, hooray for the lovely background music by Benjamin Wallfisch (The Little Prince ) as well as the cinematography by Lawrence Sher (Joker) that includes revealing close-ups of key characters. This helps us understand what those characters are feeling and increases our compassion for what they are going through.

Grief is like the ocean. It moves on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes it is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim. --- Vicki Harrison

(Released by Neflix and rated “PG-13” by MPAA.)

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