Being young is a complicated thing, something that different people explore in different ways. In Little Birds, Juno Temple and Kay Panabaker play teenagers who get in trouble after running away to Los Angeles to figure themselves out. It’s not the newest concept under the sun, but one that looks to be sharply delineated against a backdrop of naturalistic cinematography, sub-cultural exploration, and honest performance (accompanied by Kate Bosworth and a rarely dramatic Leslie Mann, seen without the Judd Apatow man-gang for the first time in a while). With all of the necessary creative cues apparently on point (peep the winsome song playing in the background!), it looks like one of those perfectly sun-drenched coming-of-age stories that end up becoming very important for people of a certain age—teenagers, basically.
Interestingly enough, Little Birds comes from writer/director Elgin James, previously known as the founder of Fuck Shit Up, a national group founded for the purpose of explicitly violence-driven anti-racism (perhaps a bit counterproductive, but what do I know?). FSU, as it’s abbreviated to, has been classified by the FBI as a street gang; James himself served a year in jail after being convicted of extorting a white power advocate in exchange for avoiding a beating. It’s a strange personal detail, one that lends an air of intensity to the on-screen violence. Not to say that it’ll make the movie any better or worse, but safe to say, the material is probably completely invested in itself. Little Birds will receive a limited summer release.