By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) -
Last week I found myself putting together my obligatory year-end Top 10 list, and reflecting on all of the films that I’ve missed. I swapped continents in September, a decision that’s definitely impacted how quickly I can see the year’s finest, leaving me in the dark as to the relative merits of War Horse, The Artist, Young Adult, The Descendants, and others. So, I’ve made an attempt to watch as many of the oft-cited quality smaller films that came out this year, and one name that kept coming up was Bellflower.
The film itself openly defies description. It nominally tells the story of a relationship between extremely handy young man obsessed with do-it-yourself weaponry and The Road Warrior and an aggressive young woman who may have more balls than he does. When the relationship goes south, the film becomes an ode to masculine grief, and post-apocalyptic fantasy mixes with real life in unexpected and explosive ways.
Translation: incredibly awesome ones
I can definitely understand how people can be captivated just by the story of how the film got made. Writer/director/star/everything else Evan Glodell pulls a Da Vinci, handling all aspects of the film up to and including building his own badass car and flamethrower, and even inventing his own goddamn camera.
He uses all of these bells and whistles to create an impressively shot, believably dark and seedy world, and then throws himself into a performance that is earnest and raw. When he gets down to the gritty wish-fulfillment part of the film, one in which his heartbreak is beginning to transform him into a pre-apocalyptic Lord Humongous, the film really gets moving, leading up to a way fucked up and entirely compelling finale and a final twist that’ll have you talking.
I know what I want to be when I grow up!
It takes awhile for this flick to get rolling. Enjoying the unique shot selection can get you through the first part, but you can’t help but wince at a lot of the lines delivered during the romantic setup. Or maybe it’s genius. The pickup lines and cutesy couple games are just about as objectively terrible and obnoxious as real life.
Speaking of obnoxious, when you get right down to it this film is incredibly self-centered, focused very much on one man and colored entirely by his perception. While that itself doesn’t make for a bad film, it certainly hurts when it gets in the way of the believable development of the rest of the characters in it. His best friend in particular is self-denying beyond any reasonable expectation.
No, I guess I wasn’t going to eat that.
It’s a bit uneven, and the chopped up and confusing story structure isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but when it’s at the top of its game, Bellflower shows us a strong, creative talent on the rise that I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever something catches on fire
Take a Drink: for every instance of surprising non-pro nudity
Drink a Shot: every time someone gets hit