From the very first moment that Evan Glodell’s writing/directorial debut, Bellflower, starts the audience knows that they are about to watch something at once slightly familiar and yet remarkably unique in almost all aspects. Bellflower is not quite any movie you are likely to see. Without giving away any spoilers the film begins as a rather humorous and sad relationship between two late twenty-somethings obsessed with apocalyptic movies and creating weapons in preparation for the end of times.
They fill their days and time day dreaming about the ultimate apocalypse in which they will each play the roles of Mad Max/Road Warrior types playing in the Hell that will be left after the world as we know it ends. All the more interesting is the fact that these two “dudes” do not even have any sense of their own immaturity or the irony that their adult feet are planted so firmly in adolescence.
The plot takes a turn for the romantic when the main character, Woodrow, played by director/writer, Evan Glodell, meets Milly. Like Woodrow and his close pal, Aiden, Milly seems to be stuck in a rut of narcissistic immaturity. Milly and Woodrow fall in love but both lack the maturity to navigate the wild woods of a relationship. It isn’t long before the relationship quickly takes a dead end turn. At that point Bellflower truly takes the audience into the darkest corners of damaged heartbreak and rage. Bellflower becomes a devastatingly disturbing apocalyptic journey filtered through the eyes of insanity.
Though, filmed on a “shoe string” budget, Glodell, his crew and actors have created a masterful piece of cinema. Certainly there are flaws along the way. Some of Bellflower plays with “Mumblecore-like” approaches that don’t quite work. However, any flaws are hidden by the style of the movie. Brilliantly filmed – the cinematography, lighting, acting, editing and music bring Bellflower an rage filled life of it’s own. The special effects do not seem like special effects. They look and feel all too real and unexpected. Glodell has cleverly created a highly artistic and powerful study of Love Wounded Man Walking and metaphor that when merged almost make a cinematic masterpiece like Coppola’s Apocalypse Now seem like a Disney movie. That in itself is quite a feat.
Just the fact that Evan Glodell’s Bellflower deals with pains that every young adult feels in first loves but literally blows them up and delivers it with a punch that would make the strongest of people bend over or at the very least squirm in their seats.
And, of course, this film is tapping into a current vibe shared by many as we enter the 21st Century. So much is unknown. So much is uncertain. Uncomfortable changes and misadventures seem to be in the air. And, <strong>Bellflower plays with that creepy societal feeling to the an extreme that turns to an almost manic glee of vengeance.
The failure of the characters to have grown into mature/adjusted men and women is presented as a reflection of a generation weaned on TV, bad movies and low expectations grinds into the psyche as a reminder of generation of people largely misplaced and lost.
Bellflower, like the amped up apocalypse car named Medusa — speeds, twists, turns, shoots out the very flames of fury and spins out of control into crashing oblivion. Horrible heartbreak speeds through the veins of Woodrow without the boundaries of emotional understanding to work through it all. Bellflower takes the audience into an apocalypse it will not soon forget and does so without any signal of regret or apology. This is hardcore/punk cinema close to completely unbridled.
Bellflower is a testosterone fueled vision of war resulting from romantic harm. And, it takes no prisoners. No one is spared and no one is innocent as Woodrow’s Medusa takes it fast cruise into Hell.
This is not a film for all tastes but no one can deny it’s raw power and artistic play out and pay off.
Bellflower is, in my opinion, one of the Top 5 Films released in 2011.
It will not leave you feeling good. It refuses to play by the rules. Best to simply get out of Medusa’s way and allow Glodell’s angry vision to wash over your senses.
The film has been assigned a well-deserved R-rating for adult themes, graphic sex, nudity, violence, drug use and foul language. However, it should be noted that all of these elements are crucial for the story that unfolds. It is not for the faint-of-heart.
Off the grid and unhinged, Bellflower is a work of cinematic art that refuses to be ignored. It has been a very long time that a new filmmaker has created a movie this impressive.
The Descendants is up for all these award and critic honors? Seriously? Really?
I thought it was “ok” but will anyone care about it in 25 years?!?!? I don’t think so.
Michael Fassbender and Carrey Mulligan ignored for SHAME?
Steve McQueen ignored for SHAME? …I suppose it is because that film dared to show a brutally real depiction of sex addiction and loneliness and received an NC-17 rating.
I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. I just roll my eyes.
Makes me think of when I was about to start college in 1986 and BLUE VELVET failed to secure a nomination for Best Film while CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD and HANNAH AND HER SISTERS did. …I mean give me a break.
I’ll stick with my Top 5:
…I think these were the most artistically original, interesting, challenging and human films of the year.
WARRIOR and DRIVE also came really close for me.
MIDNIGHT IN PARIS – Woody Allen is unable to write for characters under the age of 50. However, the fantasy sequences were fun. …but just fun. Unlike an artist of Claude Chabrol’s skill — Woody Allen has not been able to stay “current” — in fact, the last movie he made I really enjoyed was well over a decade ago — DECONSTRUCTING HARRY.
And, don’t even get me started on THE ARTIST and HUGO. ugh.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t care because I hate it when valid art is considered less worthy than things that “sell” best at mall cineplex.