(Sundial Films) Waking up every morning to the sounds of a tepid sea front and a stagnant salty layer of air can make almost anyone want to escape In the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury nominated film, Little Birds, leaving a hometown serves as just the start of finding a new life.
Director and writer Elign James tells the story of two girls trapped in Salton City, CA, population 4,000 – a near ghost town. Located next to the stand-still body of salt water, the Salton Sea, the girls’ home town is anything but glamorous. Fish bones and bird droppings cover the ground of old amusement parks that once attracted crowds of people in the 1960s.
The main character of the film, Lily Hobart (Juno Temple), yearns to fight for a way out of the depressing town. Lily sticks with her friend, Alison (Kay Panabaker), until they stumble upon a group of skater boys from the city of dreams, Los Angeles. Lily falls in love with the idea of leaving town to stay with her new boyfriend, Jesse MacNamara (Kyle Gallner), and the two girls take off for Shangri-L.A.
Lily’s rambunctious character comes alive through Temple’s performance. Temple fully embodies the adventurous 15 year old, Lily, while keeping in mind the troubles that her character carries on a daily basis. Whether it is her childlike mother or her inability to find satisfaction in the small community of Salton City, Lily is constantly troubled. Temple does a fantastic job of keeping Lily’s character outgoing and conveying a darker side that grows deeper and deeper as the film progresses. Temple may be best known for her recent supporting work in The Dark Knight Rises and The Three Musketeers. Her hardcore grit and bubble gum looks contrast each other in the best way possible. The blonde hair and doll-like face may fool many, but when the cameras are rolling Juno Temple showcases an unexpected fearless strength.
Panabaker plays Lily’s best friend, Alison. She brings the right amount of sweet and thoughtful to balance out Lily’s often over-the-top ambitions. Even though Lily would steal from a convenience store or pick a fight on an innocent passerby, Alison sticks to her morals while keeping at Lily’s side. Both Temple and Panabaker can be seen as the next young starlets to jolt a burst of young talent within the expansive world of film.
Aside from an amazing portrayal of characters, Little Birds features a strong soundtrack to back up the girl’s journey. Songs dance between classic L.A. groovy indie-rock vibes to hard hitting blues, representing the two worlds portrayed in the film.
The film hits home for many young women and men yearning to break free from their families, homes, expectations. Inspired by writer/director Elgin James' own life, Little Birds gives the canon coming of age story a fiery rebellious streak in Juno Temple. Though the story embodies the dichotomy of expectations and reality experienced in L.A., you don’t need to live there to relate. Lily and Alison’s story speaks for itself.
For Fans Of: Skins, White Oleander, The Virgin Suicides
Why We Like It: high-action drama, life lessons, coming of age, Los Angeles vibes
'Little Birds' is currently playing in limited release. For select listings, check the 'Little Birds' Official Facebook page.