Evan Glodell is a talented guy. That’s evident when viewing Bellflower, his buzzy indie project which he wrote, directed and starred in. After generating buzz at Sundance, the film was picked up by Adam Yauch’s Oscilloscope Laboratories for distribution. Jessie Wiseman as Milly, Tyler Dawson as Aiden and Rebekah Brandes as Courtney round out the cast.
The film begins with a jarring reverse-motion montage of the film’s more poster-worthy shots before taking us to a gritty bar where Woodrow meets Milly. Then we see Woodrow and Aiden finish building their pet project, a flamethrower. Then we find Woodrow and Milly set off on a blink-of-an-eye courtship that lands them in love. The awkward love story continues until you realize something’s amiss. That’s when things change. The narrative suddenly breaks into the final act where it becomes a revenge tale that builds to epic proportions before reaching an over-the-top crescendo.
The characters are under-developed and the violent climax is savage and video-game like. However, this adds to Bellflower’s “broken youth” appeal that along with the chapter titles intentionally keeps the audience disconnected.
The direction is jagged. Glodell choosing angular closeups and handheld shots that give the film an intimate, almost home movie quality. But that closeness is negated by the saturated colors and intentionally dirty camera lenses that work to give the film a very distinct look. Glodell manages to make Bellflower surreal despite the dirty and gritty vibe.
Bellflower is very much an independent film. The constraints of mainstream studio fare is missing, but so is the polish. That’s not necessarily a bad thing and, in fact, could help it find an underground audience among indie fans.
Conclusion: Bellflower is surreal, dark revenge fantasy. It’s jarring and uncomfortable but somehow manages to coax viewers to go along with the ride.