Review: The Starling Girl
Jem (Eliza Scanlan) struggles as she comes of age in a fundamentalist Christian world. Her parents want her to be ready for courtship, but when her youth pastor Owen (Lewis Pullman) returns to her church after a mission trip, he throws her life off even more.
This was a film coming out of Sundance that I had been looking forward to and was happy to find it as an option to watch on a recent Delta flight. Admittedly these weird religious cult-y dramas are right up my alley.
Jem has it hard from all sides. She gets called out early on in the film for her bra being visible through her shirt (gasp!) She seems to have a large hand in raising her younger siblings. Her father (Jimmi Simpson) did not grow up in this cult, but rather was someone who was "saved" later on and he too is struggling recently, and Jem finds herself wondering about his life before he came to God. With all of this being piled on, it makes her an easy target for someone like Owen who is old enough to know better than to go after a seventeen year old.
The Starling Girl isn't' rewriting the genre or anything, but it is a very well done and well acted drama. Eliza Scanlan never misses. This role does remind me a bit what she did in The Devil All The Time, but far more expanded. Pullman is great too. You can also see how fundamentalism has failed Owen. It's not an excuse for his actions, but it's easily an explanation.
If you're a fan of the actors involved, or even if you just want a relatively short drama to watch to pass the time, this is worth it.