An outcast student is accused of plotting to kill his fellow classmates, as evidence amounts around him and none come to his defense. A small community is horrified, and young Sean Randall becomes further ostracized, as he must deal with the consequences, lest let the anger inside him make him he very creature he vehemently denies exists – a monster.
Who’s in It?
Connor Jessup assume the difficult role of a Sean, a conflicted, brooding teen who may or may not have a dark side, and deals with the everyday struggles of being a high school teen. Deanna Roy is the girl he crushes on, while Michael Buie is equally conflicted, both likeable and not, as Sean’s father.
There is the eerie stare, the spikes and anarchist symbol adorned to a black ensemble, a plotting journal entry, a rack of guns at home, and a group of people who don’t like those who stand out. This evidence is used against teenage Sean Randle when his house is raided as Blackbird opens, and he is arrested for plotting to murder those in his school.
It’s not all as it seems, of course, as we slowly learn of his family dynamic, social life, and school endeavors, all of which paint a more whole picture of a youth who looks different, but isn’t really all that strange. It doesn’t help when you’re picked on in school and don’t have any friends, or at least none that will stick up. High school really does suck, whoever you are.
It sucks more when you become a pariah, and that’s just what Sean is, as he tries to fight an accusation that is hard to deny. Maybe he did have those thoughts, but did he have intention? All of this happens rather quickly, but the rest of the film is slow and steady, occasionally meandering, and sometimes thoughtful. Those thoughts dwell on themes of fear, loyalty, and pride, eliciting interesting questions and effectively documenting an internal struggle of a boy who shouldn’t be forced to have his made mind about the world just yet.
However, at times the thoughts the film evokes are akin to, ‘when will this be over?’ and ‘what shall I have for dinner?’ That is to say, it whimpers and flails, and almost goes into a circle as Sean, prideful as he is, is principled to a fault. Thankfully the film shifts from the standard, ‘don’t judge on appearances,’ trope, and instead focuses on the maturation of Sean, a young man who has to reconcile his actions, and those consequences do involve prison.
Jessup is impressive, but as human as he feels, he is given tasks by writer and director Jason Buxton that distracts from the personal drama, and leaves you scratching your head. When Sean makes a very strange and egregious public error later on, things fall apart, for him and the film. Blackbird redeems a bit in the end, but by then it’s too late, and you’ve already thought about the next summer blockbuster to check off the list.
Should You See It?
There is an interesting message and some quality acting in this intimate drama, so see it, but keep it a bit lower on your summer short list for now.
Sean Randle, speaking truths: “You only see what you wanna see.”