Movie Review: The Unkindness of Ravens
By a chance encounter on the internet, I have been following Lawrie Brewster and Sarah Daly since about the time they released their first film, "White Out." Some might say it's a story about climate change. I would say it is an exploration into the degradation of the human spirit and soul in an apocalyptic setting. It's available to stream if you want to see for yourself.
Some might say "The Unkindness of Ravens" is a story about a former soldier's struggle with PTSD. I would say it is the most imaginative exploration of a mental state, with the viewer's perspective from within the mind itself, since Bob Fosse's exploration of the death process in "All That Jazz."
Andrew (Jamie Scott Gordon) is finally convinced to confront his war borne ailment by his counselor, and the imagery begins! He meets his antagonist, and it is himself! "The ravens did not spare us; they saved us for last," was but one reason this other person who entered his mind gave for just ending it all.
Sarah Daly wrote "The Unkindness of Ravens," as she did "Lord of Tears" and "White Out." This story takes part largely in the mind of Andrew. The raven warriors are symbolic as they intimidate Andrew into becoming this person he is confronting and who looks like him, but that he does not otherwise recognize.
In addition to flashbacks, Lawrie Brewster adds imagery of pain, suffering, and death mixed between battles Andrew has with oversized ravens who are taunting him toward suicide. We are not seeing what Andrew is seeing; we are seeing what Andrew is feeling!
Jamie Scott Gordon played a significant role masterfully in "Lord of Tears," so it is possible that Ms. Daly wrote the part of Andrew with him in mind. Whether she did or not, he absolutely owned the role of the distraught homeless veteran who is fighting his demons that are symbolized by the crafty raven warriors who bring with them horrific memories. The bigger nemesis, though, is this image that looks like him, but is pleading for Andrew to look for other ways to deal with his problems so he need not confront them.
Sarah's imagination combined with Lawrie's vision and Jamie's portrayal left me in awe of how deep they allow us to take this tale. Though the story about Andrew is contained in this movie, what we see that Andrew is feeling is affecting the minds of many people in society who have seen things Andrew has seen and done the things Andrew has done. The torments that are so vividly played out before your eyes are why that second self that is there, but is also foreign, talks so many veterans like Andrew into ending it all much less painfully.
In my opinion, this movie has less in common with "Lord of Tears," despite the obvious similarity of large, ominous bird figures, than it does with "White Out." The similarity between this film and their first is that they both are more examinations of human will and mind when confronted with crises.
In addition to Gordon playing both Andrew and his own worst enemy, Sarah Daly produced much of the music in the sound track in addition to writing the screen play. She held both roles for their first two movies, also. The depth of her imagination in all three movies is intellectually stimulating, and the beauty of her voice and music gives Lawrie so much art to work with in creating his critically acclaimed and award winning movies.
Lawrie and Sarah are about the ages of my children. I have followed their works for years. Though I have never met them, there is a feeling similar to parental pride as I have watched them from afar grow from being in awe of the people they were meeting to becoming the people others are in awe of meeting!
"The Unkindness of Ravens" is not a family friendly movie (Addams and Munsters excepted) as it contains many violent scenes including death, dismemberment, and a particular scavenger bird species feeding upon the dead and dying.
However, the story and imagery have deeper meanings for those who seek intellectual stimulation. Brewster's movies based on Daly's art, and with his team of talent, technicians, artists, and craftsmen, have, to me, been as intellectually challenging as the best of the old Hitchcock, Twilight Zone, and Outer Limits episodes I watched in my youth.
I give it a solid five stars!
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