Monday, August 19, 2013

Bellflower (2011) Movie Brief

Taking a brief detour into fiercely indie territory, it was with great anticipation that I was able to finally catch Evan Glodell's hellish ride through northern Los Angeles, BELLFLOWER, and it truly lives up to the near two-years worth of talk that had surrounded it.

Whipped together on an absurdly small for its results 17,000 dollars, the film follows Woodrow (Glodell, in a raw performance) and Aiden(Tyler Dawson) , a pair of traveling brothers from Wisconsin who decide to move to the west coast as they hone their penchant for engineering apocalyptic motor vehicles. Both boys are intensely enamored with the 1981 George Miller classic, The Road Warrior, the pair seek to live life freely whilst creating perhaps the ultimate in wasteland transport. Their stop to live in a less than normally tended to suburb of the LA hills, becomes a center for great inspiration, and ultimately tragedy, as both find themselves entranced by a pair of locals. The seemingly more shy Woodrow finds himself almost instantly in love with the unpredictable, and fearless Milly(a terrific Jessie Wiseman) , while the more daring and often obsessive Aidan fawns quietly over her pal, Courtney(Rebekah Brandes). And even as the first half of the film implies a fly-on-the-wall romantic drama of the handheld variety, it is merely prelude to what becomes something of a shared worst case scenario. Not only do these tangled relationships threaten the boys' original vision of purpose, but of everything anyone here holds dear.

Flashing forward in time, and even into alternate resolutions and perhaps false realities, Glodell's achievement here is evident in just how assured and adventurous he and his crew are in making this one disorienting ride. Even in the craft displayed in the machines being utilized in the story, there is an immediate feeling that what we are dealing with here is a work in the hands of those unafraid to take what little was on hand and make something capable of making a deeply ingrained burn.

While one can up and dismiss much of this film as a tale of grizzled hipster angst, there is indeed more going on underneath the heat-saturated visuals. As interested in seeking how a lesser seen quantity lives, it is also excited to dive headlong into the lives of those who have left behind a more modern, structured path, and into a life of anticipated anarchy - despite the suburban milieu around everyone. It is almost as if the brothers do not even see the domestication that is ready to consume them if they stay too long. With BELLFLOWER as sanctuary slowly dissolving into a self imposed Hades, we catch Woodrow's perhaps lingering wishes for earthly wants, as Aiden's dependence upon his other half to make good on their quest to ride out the end. And while a lot of the film goes from uncomfortable to outright gut-wrenching, it is truly hard to deny what has taken place here. 

Blistering in it's visuals, presentation, and performances, this is a singular piece of first timer work that burns promise into the eyes and mind like so few debuts ever do. It dares us to peer harder into the minds of the driven, only to see ashen embers at the laps of those prone to detours..

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