Film review: Bellflower (2011)

Director: Evan Glodell

Cast: Evan Glodell (Woodrow), Jessie Wiseman (Milly), Tyler Dawson (Aiden), Rebekah Brandes (Courtney)

Bellflower is a modest, art-house wild ride of a film that is written and directed by Evan Glodell, who also brings his talent to the fore leading a group of compelling actors that inhabit a world awash in sunlight, where only certain colors, like blood red, pop out of the screen.

Glodell plays Woodrow, a seemingly unemployed handyman who plans to build a flamethrower and other weapons of mass destruction in the best Mad Max fashion, alongside his equally resourceful best friend Aiden. (Tyler Dawson). Together they pal around, drinking, bar hopping, always looking for the next girl as they await the moment in which their projects come to fruition. While Aiden is a free-spirit, Woodrow just goes with the flow, open to finding the sort of companionship his loneliness craves for.

On a night like any other, Woodrow meets Milly at a bar after he loses to her at a maggot-munching competition, Fear Factor style. After a few awkward exchanges, Milly agrees to see him on a date, one that takes them both across state lines and into Texas. As their relationship progresses, we get clues that something will go wrong. It is a feeling that does not let up for one second. First, Woodrow fights (and apparently “destroys”) a guy for touching Milly, then she warns him not to get too attached because she will hurt his feelings. Both moments are taken lightly by our characters, as if they never happened, but we, as an audience, sure can’t forget them.

Though these hints might be helpful in pushing the film forward, they become a little repetitive and make the film a little predictable. We certainly don’t know how it will all turn out exactly, but the film clearly points towards a doomsday finale that rivals, in terms of power and rawness, with any other film released in recent years. Part of the effectiveness comes from the bare-bone presentation by Glodell who accentuates sudden violence and stress with moments of calm and introspective. Woodrow sulks and thinks as soon as his heart is broken and we can tell, and we are also convinced, that all of the anger and frustration he is holding inside could manifest as an awful rush of violence that seems otherwise unbecoming of his awkward and unsure sense of self.

While satisfying at certain moments, Glodell stylistic approach gets in the way of the film. His color palette might come in handy to make reddish tones pop, but it often seems more of an intrusion we are always aware of that keeps us from placing all of our attention on the story.

The sense of doom that permeates the film builds enough suspense to demand attention without being overtly stated. Evan Glodell’s story is one of suburban alienation, maybe even a critique to the culture that seems to dominate the younger generations growing up in small-town America. It sheds an interesting light upon the power of love (or lust) and how one action can significantly alter the lives of so many people. For Evan Glodell, there is a consequence to everything and, with his first full-lenght feature film, he shows great promise both as a director and actor, even though Bellflower is quite an imperfect piece of work.

Rating: 3/5 (above average)

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3 thoughts on “Film review: Bellflower (2011)

  1. I really enjoyed this film when I saw it at IFF Boston. Evan Glodell was in attendance and it was a lot of fun. I didn’t expect it to take the turn it did and I was blown away. Sure the atmosphere had something to do with my enjoyment of the film, but Bellflower deserved the praise.

  2. Bellflower had many merits and Evan Glodell is someone we should pay attention to in the coming years.

    I do think it was far from perfect, especially in its overall presentation and the rather weak performance of Tyler Dawson, but it is certainly worth the price of admission.

    Thanks for dropping by

  3. The premise of this one seems interesting at first but not sure I’d enjoy this movie as a whole. Still it’s good to see a newbie filmmaker making a worthwhile effort and sounds like he just might have a promising film career ahead of him.

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