Every synopsis I have read of Bellflower misrepresents the film. I know I started a recent review with a similar device, the review of “Survival Wilderness for Girls,” but it is true for both films. Maybe this is just becoming more prevalent in an era where a short online synopsis might convince you to order a movie through a number of readily available online streaming options (Cinema Now, Vudu, Netflix, PPV, Amazon, etc.), but I can’t remember a time when more films where misrepresented through synopsis and trailers than in the last few years.
IMDB’s synopsis reads like this:
Two friends spend all their free time building flame-throwers and weapons of mass destruction in hopes that a global apocalypse will occur and clear the runway for their imaginary gang "Mother Medusa".
While this is true, it is a pretty small portion of the film. Heck, when I sat down to watch the film I thought it was going to take place in a future poised on the brink of annihilation. However, Bellflower actually takes place in modern day California. And is actually a love story. Or a bromance. Or a mixture of both. And, yeah, there is a flamethrower thrown in for good measure.
Woodrow (Evan Glodell) and Aiden (Tyler Dawson) are two friends who are building a flamethrower together. This isn’t to illustrate how weird they are, or mentally unstable. It’s just something to pass the time.
At a bar one night Woodrow is taken with Milly (Jessie Wiseman), who hands him a beat-down in a particularly voracious cricket-eating competition. They make plans for a date, deciding spontaneously to drive to small hole-in-the-wall diner in Texas, where Woodrow is punched in the nose, and also trades his car (whose dashboard is rigged to tap whisky from somewhere in the motor block) for a motorcycle.
These scenes take up about the first 40-45 minutes of the film, and they are dull. None of the actors cast in the film are adept at acting, although some might garner themselves a “passable” critique. Particularly problematic is Glodell, the writer and director of the film, who is also cast as the lead. Many lines are delivered in a stiff manner, and his awkward , self-aware giggle will have you pulling out your hair by minute 20.
There was a point during this time period I considered turning the film off. The one saving grace was its approach stylistically. I was aware the supposed budget of the film was $17,000 which, when translated to film budget, is almost literally nothing. I have seen films with four times the budget with four times less style (like this piece of festering feces: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0469683/, which, even at 75 minutes long, was probably the greatest waste of time in my life).
So I continued to watch. And at about minute 50, give or take, an event occurs which causes a fist fight, possible brain damage, arson and self-deprecation.
And the rest of the film is captivating. It is finished in abruptly edited scenes and fevered, intoxicating visuals. I’m not sure it excuses Glodell’s first half exercise in acting futility, but as the film is finished in an explosion of carnage and outrage, it is obvious he chose the overt “aw-gee-shucks” nature of the first half of the film to juxtapose the anger in the second half.
There is an ending monologue from Aiden which finishes the film perfectly. It ties together everything in the film, from the violence perpetrated throughout, to relationships gone wrong, to the ramifications of poor decisions, and to the emotions associated therein, all with a “Road Warrior”-like apocalypse metaphor. I really feel with a little tightening-up, this could have been a great film. As-is, it’s set to be a piece of faulted cult cinema by a promising talent in the field.
Written by Ryan Venson [embed width="500" height="856"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrqM2Y74_lw[/embed]