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'Blackbird' showcases Susan Sarandon as a family copes with a fatal illness

September 15, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

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"Blackbird" assembles a terrific cast in the service of fairly mundane movie -- a small-boned production about a woman facing a terminal diagnosis, summoning her family to say goodbye.

(CNN)"Blackbird" assembles a terrific cast in the service of fairly mundane movie -- a small-boned production about a woman facing a terminal diagnosis, summoning her family to say goodbye.

Before the condition worsens, she plans to quietly take her own life with the help of her husband (Sam Neill), but not before spending the weekend in their idyllic beach house with her family.

As "Blackbird" unfolds, though, there's a too-familiar quality to the feelings that come spilling out, including old resentments and conflicts brought to the fore regarding Lily's grown daughters -- one (Kate Winslet) a tightly wound mom, the other (Mia Wasikowska) still finding herself -- each there with a partner, as well as a few secrets.

Directed by Roger Michell ("My Cousin Rachel"), this remake of the 2014 Danish film "Silent Heart" occasionally puts a lump in your throat, such as when Lily asks her longtime friend (Lindsay Duncan) to "look after my girls. " The conversation also drifts into the biggest of themes about the question of choosing to end one's life and what might await her -- indeed, everyone -- after.

The cast is quite good, although the movie could wind up as a 2020 afterthought for Winslet, who's again earning award buzz for her featured role in the upcoming "Ammonite. " The moral question, meanwhile, is complicated a bit by the fact Sarandon -- however polarizing she might be off screen -- projects a vitality that belies her 70-plus years and Lily's condition.

Setting that aside, the idea all this unfolds within a weekend feels a trifle contrived, which might explain why the movie labors down the back stretch.

"Blackbird" inadvertently benefits from the way those connections -- bonds with family, the pain of loss and learning to let go -- have been tested in these trying times, and the notion of identifying what's truly important.

"Love is all there is," Lily tells her family, as she tries to help them let go.

In the movies, there ought to be a little more to it than "Blackbird" finally delivers.

"Blackbird" will premiere via Fathom Events on Sept.

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