Indie movie of the week #1: The Starling (2021)

After finishing making another delicious pasta casserole, I sat down in my recliner and hopped onto Netflix to try and find something to watch. Normally I ignore movies that are on top frame but every now and then a real gem will pop up like The Starling.

This low budget indie film was produced by Netflix for $20 million which is surprising since the movie has some big names in it.

The only reason I chose this movie is that I really like Melissa McCarthy. She starred in Gilmore Girls which was a show I enjoyed in the early 2000s. Jack O’Dowd is also in the movie -the two starred in Bridesmaids which is one of the most hilarious movies released in the last 10 years. Oh gosh. The movie is 10 years old this year!

The Starling

The Starling hit a few theatres in the US on September 17th, but was released to Netflix in the US and Canada on September 24th – which means I caught it early. I haven’t watched any movies this week so I’m glad I watched this one.

The film (I call smaller productions films) was produced by Netflix but with a smaller budget of $20 million. It was directed by Theodore Melfi, a New York based screenwriter and well known producer. He is known for films like St. Vincent (Bill Murray), Hidden Figures, and El Camino Christmas with Dax Shepperd. I watched this movie last Christmas and it was… awful.

Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids, Heat) stars as the lead Lily, a woman who is going through a tremendous loss and is dealing with the various stages of grief. Her husband Jack, played Chris O’Dowd (Bridesmaids), has been admitted to an institute where he is undergoing treatment for his own grief.

The story focuses on Lily and Jack’s journey through their own grief which they handle very differently. I can’t say much more than that, as I don’t want to give the point of the plot away. Lily seems to have her life together as she works full time and is taking care of the house – and all the responsibilities that come with an old house.

A year passes and Lily has taken on the task of cleaning up the garden. She decides to plant a vegetable garden to help pass the time while her husband is in the institution. As she works on the garden, Lily is attacked by a starling – a bird that is not known in her area.

She is referred to a psychologist turned veterinarian, played by legendary Kevin Kline. I adore Kevin Kline. He’s been in some fantastic movies like In & Out, Wild Wild West, Beauty the Beast (live action), and more notably, a classic, A Fish Called Wanda. 10/10 recommend this movie.

Kline stars as Dr. Larry Fine who is struggling with his own life changes and decision to work with animals instead of people. He agrees to help Lily with her “bird” problem, and the two become fast friends.

Also in the movie – Timothy Olyphant and Skyler Gisondo from Santa Clara Diet, Loretta Devine (Supernatural), Gustavo Gomez (Animal Kingdom), and many other names that I don’t recognize. But that’s my fault. I haven’t watched many new indie films – and I plan on changing that.

My thoughts after watching

I’ve given up on Hollywood movies because of the “politically correct” narrative they push on movies. It saddens me as someone who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s with such a great time for movies. Now everything is filmed with green screens and CGI. I feel that this takes away a little bit of movie magic that we see in older movies.

That and the fact that Hollywood has run out of original ideas. Most movies now are reboots or sequels that we didn’t need to see. Like the new The Craft reboot. It was just – god awful. I turned it off about 30 minutes into it.

What I love about indie films is they are like older movies with very little special effects. It’s almost like watching a really good play. Producers have less money to use on building enormous sets and tend to focus more on storylines and acting. And the music. I love the music of smaller films. I’ve discovered a lot of great artists from watching independent films.

I imagine that they used CGI or animatronics for the birds in this film. But other than that, the film was beautiful to watch. Whoever worked on the cinematography did a great job. And the soundtrack was just – perfect. I’m now listening to Brandi Carlile because of it.

Anyway. If you’re looking for something heart warming to watch, I recommend The Starling. Unfortunately, it didn’t do very well with critics. They say it was over the top with “melodramatic antics”. But honestly, as someone who has suffered the various stages of grief more than a few times in my life from losses – I found myself laughing in some parts, and tearing up in others.

I thought I would cry my eyes out but I managed to hold it together. Though if you’ve lost someone recently, you might want to have a box of tissues close by.

I’m not going to rate movies or films here on a rating system. What I will say is – do give this one a chance and support indie film makers.

Official Trailer


The opening song was performed by The Lumineers, an indie folk band that I’ve been a fan of since I first started using iTunes Music back in 2010. I honestly don’t remember when I started using Itunes – I switched to Spotify in 2019 and am addicted to it. I just tried finding the tune on Spotify but it’s not released yet. I suspect it was probably written for the film – but honestly the song moved me to tears before the movie even really started.

The rest of the soundtrack is amazing with songs from Brandi Carlile, Melody Gardot, Zelma Sanders, Alyssa Garcia and more indie artists. I think this is why I love indie films so much – it’s cheaper for indie film producers to use songs from lesser known artists. But it’s also a great way for artists to get discovered. Most of the music I listen to now came from some of my favorite tv shows and movies.

This song isn’t available to listen to, so I found this video of the opening credits on YouTube. I’ll share the official video when it is available. Hopefully soon.

Indie film challenge

A while ago, I said I was going to share some of my favorite movies with you. Tonight, I had intended to watch a horror movie and get started on my Halloween marathon early. But I think maybe discovering a new indie film every week would be a better use of my time and this blog.

So, every week, Friday or Saturday nights, I’m going to sit down and watch whatever is new (or newer) released to sites like Prime and Netflix. I’ll share my thoughts as I’m watching the movie here.

If you have a recommendation, please let me know!

List of films (so far):

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