Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bellflower Review

It starts off as a nice little story of young love, but it never feels quite right. Honestly, I can't be completely sure if it was because of an intended tone being successfully achieved or if it just boils down to the very limited budget Bellflower was made on, but that warmth you feel as you watch it is never because of hugs and kisses and the gentle, passionate lovemaking. It's Medusa and the flamethrower that make you feel a bit queasy, a bit uneasy, as if you always know deep down that the kindness exhibited early on can't possibly be sustained.

Woodrow and Aiden look up to Lord Humongous from The Road Warrior as a symbol of what defines the ideal man. They dream of an escape where the days are spent simply but powerfully, in a world where a woman could never hurt them. A real man controls his woman. In their minds, life is a fantasy where you name your car Medusa and you can light the world on fire with ease, but reality is painted with a different brush. Reality asks you to grow up, to leave behind the imaginary notion that the whimsy of adolescence can last forever. Reality can rip your heart out and stomp on it, it can cheat on you and leave you empty and cold.

Bellflower is far from perfect cinema but when you consider that it was made on a budget of $17,000, it's a revelation. The performances aren't always on point but they also never take you out of the experience, as even when dialogue is delivered without earnest I still could smell the stink of the feverish golden toned aesthetic. The ending is mesmerizing and just enigmatic enough to linger in your mind for some time, making you wonder whether you witnessed reality or the deranged fantasies of a man with a misplaced idea of masculinity.

The face in front of the camera is the same as the one behind it as Evan Glodell stars as Woodrow and also edited, wrote and directed the picture, and what he achieved using so little is incredible. On face value it's easy to be baffled by Bellflower, a film that pulls off a tonal shift that reminds me of Takeshi Miike's Audition, a tale of two halves that initially feels like a story of romance until it is overtaken by mania, violence and vengeance. For me this is a flawed yet shockingly thematically rich movie that is smart enough to know exactly what it is doing and what direction it intends to go in, even if the actions displayed on screen appear to be idiotic. 

I have no idea if or when Glodell intends to direct again but sign me up for it no matter what. His talent is undeniable.


No comments:

Post a Comment