Susan Sarandon stepped out at the world premiere of Blackbird. The red carpet at the Toronto International Film Festival’s Royal Thomspon Hall was crowded with fans and cinephiles wanting to get a glimpse of their favourite stars.
A terminally ill mother (Susan Sarandon) invites her family to their country house for one final gathering, but tensions quickly boil over between her two daughters (Kate Winslet and Mia Wasikowska), in Roger Michell’s (My Cousin Rachel, Le Week-End) remake of the award-winning 2014 Danish film Silent Heart.
Lily (Sarandon, also at the Festival in A Dry White Season, screening in the TIFF Cinematheque programme) is terminally ill (ALS). Having considered her remaining options, and with the support of her husband Paul (Neill), she has decided to end her life on her own terms. Lily and Paul summon their loved ones to their country house for one final gathering, but the responses vary, especially those of Lily’s daughters, Jennifer (Winslet) and Anna (Mia Wasikowska), whose long-standing unresolved conflicts come surging to the surface and threaten to destabilize what was intended to be a peaceful collective farewell.
The excited public gathered outside the Royal Thompson Hall to cheer the Holywood icon, Sarandon, and to commemorate the occasion with selfies. The actress, wearing sparkling black blazer and her customary sunglasses, engaged with the fans and posed for photos before heading to the screening.
Speaking earlier at the press conference of Blackbird, Susan Sarandon admitted that, despite being working on other films, it took her only four hours to say ‘Yes’. “Everyone else was already on board so I had that to vote for the film. I knew what the cast was and Roger’s [Michell’s] work and people with whom I worked before and the people that I admired… So I just thought ‘Yeah, I’ll jump’.”
As to the role of Lily, Sarandon admitted “it’s interesting to ask yourself what is your definition of life and when you draw the line and what matters to you and what doesn’t…
“But also it’s about family and family secrets and how you see you parents, which is hardly ever who they really are, and how you see your children, which is hardly ever who they are. So there was a lot of revelations.”
Watch full Blackbird press conference at TIFF
Blackbird is directed by Roger Michell (Notting Hill) and written by Christian Torpe, who also penned the screenplay for Silent Heart, the Danish film on which it is based. The film grapples with the contrasting needs of the dying and the soon-to-be-bereaved with humour, curiosity, and a tremendous sense of humanity. While inevitably steering towards grief, the film allows its three generations of characters to hash out previously dormant disputes along the way. This is not a film about holding vigil over the dying, or the politics of euthanasia, but rather the glorious, messy preciousness of life.