Reviews: Blackbird

blackbird movie
Here's our review of Blackbird, released last week.

blackbird movie
"Lord, please let that pizza show
up soon. I'm starving."
Blackbird is based on a novel of the same name within a series of books written by Larry Duplechan. The main character, Johnnie Ray Rousseau gets a name change in this 2014 adaptation by Patrick-Ian Polk. Starring Mo’Nique, Isaiah Washington, and introducing Julian Walker in a story about an adolescent black-American struggling with himself and the world around him. Having not read any of Duplechan’s works, including his Johnnie Ray Rousseau books, Blackbird left me feeling utterly confused.

The reason people watch movies based on books is because they do not want to read the book. Polk may have taken the word “adaptation” too literally. Blackbird is a complete mess. It’s as though Polk had shut the book and started filming the very second he stood up and was going off memory of what he had just read. Scenes jump from one story to another and then to another all at the same time without any clarification. Blackbird is a “paint by numbers” film out of control with a deep message lumped in. Understanding that Polk was trying to do right by the source material, his adaptation feels less like a movie and more like you are watching someone read a book to you. Unfortunately, this is one time where you should read the book first to comprehend what the story is about. By all means, the movie isn’t bad; in fact it made me want to pick up the book because it is great reading material. It just should have stayed that way.

Blackbird looked wonderful. The colors popped, shot composition was excellent, acting outstanding, and the music was joyful with a lot of Walker’s beautiful voice on top of it. With the movie clocking in at 99 minutes, time will have seemed to stop as you get lost within the disjointed story telling partly to do with poor editing. This may be why you are confused throughout the movie. Blackbird is about love and acceptance, not just for you, but for others as they are in god’s image. God loves you and there is a lot of him in this. 

Not being religious, it was unsettling to sit through so much preaching. Viewers might get the wrong impression as to what the deep message is because it gets pushed to the side until the last 10 minutes of the entire movie. Blackbird is a prequel novel to the Johnnie Ray Rousseau books, but judging by this adaptation, I see no film series coming out of this. Polk tried, but failed.