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'Blackbird' is exhaustingly over familiar

Blackbird, writer-director Adam Rapp's life-of-a-couple-of-junkies drama, is set in the New York of 1995. And that unexplained time frame is about the only novel thing about this exhaustingly over familiar tale of a heroin addict (Paul Sparks) who balances on the razor's edge between life and death and who pulls a pretty young runaway named Froggy (Gillian Jacobs) onto that razor's edge with him.

Rapp's film has compelling characters and a very moving (if predictable) finale. But those characters are thrown together in situations so absurd as to defy belief.

Froggy gets off the bus from Detroit, on the run. And she trustingly hooks up with a dope-dealing stranger ( Danny Hoch) and goes home with him. He finds her a job stripping.

Froggy, 17 , is picked up after a night of stripping by Bayliss (Sparks), who is twice her age, homeless and obviously deep into a substance-abuse problem. Bayliss meets and is helped by another stranger, the very concerned Murl (Michael Shannon, always good). Why would Murl drag this junkie to his friendly poker game, help him find a job?

Hey, it's 1995. New York was safer then, New Yorkers were nicer, more trusting of perfect strangers with drug problems. And green filmmakers love their poker game and strip club scenes.

Screening at: Sunday, March 30, 4:45 p.m.–6:25 p.m. at Regal; Tuesday, April 1, 9 p.m.–11 p.m. at Regal

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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