- Movie Rating -

Bellflower (2011)

| November 6, 2011 | 0 Comments

Few things are more exciting to me than a talented new independent filmmaker, one who brings a God-given mastery of his craft and a fresh perspective to this over-saturated medium the seems hell-bent on repeating the same formulas.  Evan Glodell is such a talent; he makes it abundantly clear that he knows what he wants from his movie on a technical level.  Having seen Bellflower, his directorial debut, I can state with ease that he is a born filmmaker.  Yet, I must observe that he is not yet a great storyteller.

Bellflower is one of the best looking movies I have seen in a very long time.  Shot in a washed-out, over-exposed hues that make everything look like a state of stalled, permanent sunset, it accents a world in which his characters seem to have reached the same plateau.  His story tells of the aimless, meaningless lives of Aiden (played by Tyler Dawson) and Woodrow (played by Glodell), two friends in their early twenties who don’t appear to have jobs, but have the time and the money to spend building incendiary devices like flamethrowers.  Obsessed with the Mad Max pictures, their current project is to modify their muscle car – named “Medusa” – so that flames will shoot out the back. To their surprise the darn thing works!

Aiden is somewhat of a loose cannon. while Woodrow is a little more reserved, though not by much.  They seem more at ease with one another than they do with anyone else.  That’s where the problem lays, especially after Woodrow meets Milly (Jessie Wiseman), a pretty blonde that he runs into at a cricket-eating contest (you heard me). This is not the last time that he will discover how impulsive she is. Milly and Woodrow quickly develop a sweet, tender romance based on the fact that, despite the vast differences in their personality, they seem right for one another. Yet, Woodrow’s eyes for his new girl are blinded to her impulsive nature and, with that, she eventually breaks his heart.What happens next I won’t reveal but will say that I didn’t really believe. Sure Woodrow is heartbroken but his response seems a little off-kilter, or maybe it shouldn’t be, given what he does with his spare time it might seem right in line. When he loses Milly, the movie excelerates to a manic speed that seems overwrought, and the movie gets very violent and very bloody.The technical side of the film suggests a story that would seem better constructed. Here is a movie about a group of aimless and demoralized young people whose lives have no more purpose than drinking, having sex and building flamethrowers (we get to see them do ALL of these things), but it never really finds the right pace at which to tell their story, at once it is has the leisure pace of day-to-day life and then it wants to be an insane post-apocalyptic psycho-drama. That tone-shift, for me, throws the movie off balance. The look and pace of the latter half of the film is suppose to suggest that that getting your heart broken is no less than an emotional nuclear holocaust, but we are put through a series of scenes in which we aren’t sure what is real and what is not. That makes the narrative a little muddy.

The story of the relationship between Woodrow and Milly is interesting up to the moment that she betrays him but then the movie becomes overwrought, with characters acting out with violence and bloodshed. The third-act of this movie is exceedingly unpleasant. Personally, I would rather Glodell had thrown away the entire business of the flamethrowers and the car, and just dealt with the relationship on its own terms. To me, all the pyrotechnic stuff just seems like a device.

I don’t know, maybe younger viewers will get more out of this film than I did. Glodell is a talented filmmaker (he actually built the camera he uses in this film) and he shows that he has the stuff to become a pure film artist. I just think he needs a great screenplay at his disposal. As I watched Bellflower, I thought of the work of Quentin Tarantino, and observed that I wasn’t a fan of Reservoir Dogs, his first feature film, but he followed it up with brilliant work like Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown and Kill Bill. Maybe Glodell’s next film will be better.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2011) View IMDB Filed in: Action, Drama