Is there anything new a film can offer on the subject of heroin? "Blackbird" is a junkie love story from writer/director/playwright Adam Rapp, whose last film, "Winter Passing," flickered in and out of theaters briefly last year, and it does bring to the table one thing we hadn’t yet seen on screen: a grown man removing an adult diaper and using wet naps to wipe his ass. Otherwise, "Blackbird" is an unremarkable doomed romance about a homeless Gulf War veteran junkie named Baylis (Paul Sparks) who meets and woos teenager runaway turned stripper turned fellow junkie Froggy (Gillian Jacobs). The film is set in the still-gritty mid-90s New York longterm New Yorkers like to romanticize, and while it contorts itself not to do the same, we still found ourselves looking covetously at Baylis and Froggy’s cement-walled squat â€” so much space! And in downtown Manhattan!
The lithe and wary-eyed Jacobs is clearly destined for greater things, and if "Blackbird" were a little more pointed (and if Natalie Portman hadn’t already made her mark on the bewigged lapdance scene), her role as Froggy would be star-making. She flips between sexual bravado and devastating vulnerability, and if the revelations about her past towards the film’s conclusion are both expected and over-the-top, the path there takes unexpected turns. "Blackbird" dares to draw a harsh urban world that’s also filled with unexpected kindnesses; Baylis and Froggy both receive help from near or total strangers, and, for a while, it seems like they’ll manage a functional life together. They don’t, but that’s par for the course â€” sometimes we wish someone would make a movie about a kid who dabbles in heroin for a while, then goes on to become a success tax attorney or the like.
"Blackbird" currently has no US distribution.