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Little Birds (2012)



Average Rating: 5.1/10
Critic Reviews: 12
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 6

No consensus yet.



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Average Rating: 3.1/5
User Ratings: 2,153

My Rating

Movie Info

Fifteen-year-old Lily and her best friend, Alison, live on the shores of the Salton Sea. Sprinting toward adulthood, Lily wants to escape her depressing hometown. But Alison is content with her life; she enjoys being sheltered from the uncertainty of growing up. When the girls meet three street kids, Lily convinces Alison to follow the boys to Los Angeles. Thrust into a world of excitement and danger, the girls must decide how far they are willing to go to get what they want. -- (C) Official



Dec 31, 2012


Millenium Entertainment - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (19) | Top Critics (12) | Fresh (10) | Rotten (9)

Though the plotting is problematic and at times as lost as the kids, there are bursts of brilliance and moments of aching vulnerability in "Little Birds" that make you wonder what the filmmaker might do next.

September 13, 2012 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The dreamy shots of a poisoned sea in "Little Birds" show an imagination sorely missing from its drab plot and characters.

August 31, 2012 Full Review Source: New York Post
New York Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Despair may be an emotion of emptiness, of the absence of hope, but that doesn't mean a movie about someone spiraling down into that emotion has to feel so empty as well.

August 30, 2012 Full Review Source: NPR
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There's a moralistic structure there, but it leaves Lily in a place that's scarcely more reassuring than the one she first abandoned. That's what makes Little Birds not just a lesson but, in its rambling way, an organic journey.

August 29, 2012 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Like its teenage heroine, "Little Birds" is stubbornly convinced of its own unique profundity. So it's a good thing this moodily self-absorbed drama redeems itself with just enough endearing innocence.

August 29, 2012 Full Review Source: New York Daily News
New York Daily News
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It is hard not to be reminded of other movies - like Larry Clark's "Kids," Nick Cassavetes's "Alpha Dog," Andrea Arnold's "Fish Tank" - that explore similar territory with greater risk and originality.

August 29, 2012 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Quirky tale of female empowerment about coming of age on L.A.'s mean streets.

December 29, 2012
Sly Fox

Fragile tale of how a lifelong friendship forged between two innocent girls is tested when they venture into a volatile, violent world.

September 8, 2012 Full Review Source: SSG Syndicate
SSG Syndicate

Teen girls seek respite from bleak life in mature drama.

September 4, 2012 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Coming-of-age, semi-autobiographical drama has flashes of adventure and danger, but too much 'So what?'.

August 30, 2012 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

Temple, in particular, is headed for stardom.

August 29, 2012 Full Review Source: Paste Magazine
Paste Magazine

Juno Temple's Lily is a damaged creature trying to fly in Little Birds, a film of precious, romanticized misery and squalor.

August 12, 2012 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Juno Temple is particularly appealing as a 15 year old who's fragile, but bored enough to do almost anything bad.

February 10, 2011 Full Review Source: Screen International
Screen International

Audience Reviews for Little Birds

"Little Birds is a film about a teen named Lily that is desperate to escape her small town and the baggage it brings with it. She is itching for freedom from her boring life. When Lily and her best friend, Alison stumble upon three street kids and one invites Lily to join them back home, they decide to see how far some freedom will take them. Alison is quite comfortable in her life, but she is in some way desperate to please Lily so she does what she can to make their friendship survive. Even if that means stealing her bosses truck to help Lily escape for awhile.
Juno Temple is fastly becoming a favorite of mine. She is fearless in the roles she takes. I admire that in an actress/actor. It was my first time (I think) seeing Kay Panabaker in a movie. I think she's great. Her and Temple really worked well together. Everyone else does a good job in this as well. I would have liked if there was a little bit more story to these young ladies past. All in all a good indie flick."
February 21, 2013

Super Reviewer

How far would you go?

Decent good movie! Little Birds is a solid and stable genre-exercise but nothing more. It undermines its true potential, and too often allows its characters to stew in just average material. I would've liked to see more scenes involving the teens attempting to make conversation with their parents and vice-versa. Shouting matches can get tedious, especially when you've seen a handful of films centered on rebellion. It's also interesting to note that this makes young Juno Temple three for three in the game of "how many poor, listless trailer park characters can I play in films?" with the two home-runs Dirty Girl and Killer Joe already under her belt. I love Temple as an actress and feel she has attitude and charm that could stretch a mile wide, but perhaps in order to test her abilities more she should move up the social class food chain to either comfortably poor or low middle class. Even the most skilled and reliable typecast actors need a breath of fresh air.

Lily and Alison face a life-changing event after they leave their Salton Sea home and follow the boys they meet back to Los Angeles.
January 8, 2013
Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

As far as cautionary tales go, "Little Birds" is a dull, dreary, illogical, drawn out and predictable one with Juno Temple playing Lily, at this rate the kind of infantile woman she will be playing well into her fifties. Lily is bored at the lack of anything in the small town she lives in with her best friend Alison(Kay Panabaker). All of which could have easily been established in the five minutes it takes to walk across it, instead of the movie being half over before any kind of plot kicks in.

That involves the visit of some boys from Los Angeles. And in one of the movie's only highlights, you can see the look of bliss on Lily's face after the ritual of exchanging clothing and phone numbers between her and one of the boys has been completed. So taken is she that she then tries to persuade Alison to drive them all the way to Los Angeles. Alison is so loyal to her friend that she does not yet recognize that they are heading in much different directions, much less that Lily is a train wreck, having almost literally caused one earlier and otherwise antagonizing everybody else in a thirty mile radius. Oh well.
April 6, 2014
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

A fresh and harsh-reality look at a coming of age story, involving two young girls, Elgin James' "Little Birds" brings Juno Temple and Kay Panabaker together for some of the best young woman acting since "My Girl". Temple plays wild child Lily, who lives in the Salton Sea, dreaming of drowning herself, cutting herself, and running off to Los Angeles with her homeless boyfriend, Jesse (Kyle Gallner). Panabaker plays the quite opposite, Alison, who rides horses, knows how to shoot a gun, and loves her quiet mannered father. When Lily is threatened by another girl, she talks Alison into driving her to the City of Angels, where they shack up with three homeless boys and adhere to wrecking havoc on the streets of L.A., stealing laptops and luring pedophiles into their abandoned hotel to steal their wallets and then blackmailing them. Temple is pristine in this role, having the perfect look to match her anarchist behavior, while Panabaker couldn't be more perfect for her role as well, radiating an innocence and naivete that rivals the best in any similar performance. Although slightly predictable in story, "Little Birds" flows nicely, engaging the audience while the girls steal the show.
August 9, 2013

Super Reviewer

    1. Alison Hoffman: You only get a little time between a cut and knowing how deep it is. If it's only going to be nicked or disfigured forever, all you can do is try to stretch out that moment for as long as you possibly can cause once you know, there ain't no coming back.
    – Submitted by Hugo G (17 months ago)
    1. Lily Hobart: I like your eyes
    – Submitted by Frankie L (18 months ago)
    1. Lily Hobart: I figured it out... we can take Hogan's truck to LA!
    – Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)
    1. Margaret Hobart: You need to talk to someone kido.
    – Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)
View all quotes (4)

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