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Filmmaker Letter

Filmmaker Letter

The Starling

by director Theodore Melfi

In my estimation we are in a drought. A drought of hope. Over the past two years obviously, but much longer than that, if you ask me, hope has seemingly disappeared from cinemas and it has been replaced with violence, negativity and cynicism. Not only does the hero not win, we often times don’t even know who the hero is anymore. And so…an entire generation has grown up under this “spell” and society as a whole, America for certain, has grown increasingly sneering and divided.

As a filmmaker, I don’t accept this. I think it matters a great deal what we put out into the world. I think the images and messages we share on screens of all sizes have tremendous influence over the audience, and as such, we have a responsibility to do “right” by them, and put as much goodness and light and humanity out into the world as we can. What we make matters. What people ingest matters. What we leave behind matters.

And so I choose to make films that inspire people and leave them with a sense of hope. Because, for me, the alternative is valueless. The Starling is such a story.

In the film, a happily married couple experiences a great loss and neither knows how to process it. Lily (Melissa McCarthy) chooses to barrel through and not deal with her grief, while her husband, Jack (Chris O’Dowd), needs to take a complete time-out from life to work through his mental state. Neither is wrong in their choice, there is no one way to deal with grief. Like all of us who have experienced loss, the only way through is…through. As my nun mom used to say, “If you’re going through hell, don’t stop.”

This central theme of a couple trying to figure out how to move forward was what drew me to the project. As a married man of 25 years, I’m always drawn to stories with characters who are trying to work out their relationships and make them last. I’m always trying to work out my own and I’m not embarrassed to say it. Anything that matters in our lives takes effort and that effort is what makes up our lives.

And so…I am eternally grateful to share The Starling with you and even more grateful that you get to experience it on a Landmark big screen. There’s nothing like sitting in a pitch black theater, with a group of total strangers, smelling each other’s popcorn while sharing a collective experience. We so need to connect these days, we need to be together, we need to know our neighbor is just like us, and he or she wants a happy ending to their lives, a good laugh and a good cry. I think The Starling is just what the doctor ordered.

Anyway…thank you for supporting a film with characters not wearing spandex. We need films about regular folks dealing with life just like the rest of us. We need to be reminded of our humanity. Maybe now more than ever.

God speed. I hope you enjoy the show.


Spoiler alert: The Starling has a hopeful ending.

Posted September 15, 2021

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