On the one hand, “Bellflower” is a thematic masterpiece and a technical landmark for independent filmmaking.
On the other hand, writer/director Evan Glodell’s screenplay is all over the place, taking a while to capture one’s interest before eventually frustrating them with layers of confusing chronology and mercurial madness. An intensely violent sequence near the end shows promise but the story whimpers out before all is said and done.
Glodell plays Woodrow, a young man who spends all of his free time building “Mad Max” inspired flamethrowers and muscle cars with his best friend Aiden (Tyler Dawson) in hopes that a global apocalypse will occur. But when Woodrow meets and falls in love with a charismatic young woman (Jessie Wiseman), he and Aiden quickly integrate into a new group of friends, setting off on a journey of love and hate, betrayal, infidelity and extreme violence.
From the looks of “Bellflower,” there is not another filmmaker working today who can compete with Glodell’s creativity. Knowing that he shot the $17,000 project over the course of 3 years with cameras and props that he built himself only accentuates the audience’s awe. There is no doubt about the fact that this film is nothing short of a labor of love.
Unfortunately, Glodell also appears to be a bit too close to “Bellflower” and especially the events in his own life that inspired its story. As a result, the movie plays out like Glodell’s own personal therapy session during which all of the chaos swimming around in his mind is splattered on the screen. At times, on a strictly metaphorical level, that chaos is kind of poetic. Other times, it is too messy and convoluted to make any sense whatsoever.
Except, of course, to Glodell – hence the “too close” criticism. In that respect, “Bellflower” is a film that is felt rather than understood. Needless to say, that makes the motion picture easy to admire but difficult to enjoy. Hopefully, “Bellflower” has allowed Glodell to get all of the pent-up emotions out of his system so that he can take a few steps back with his next effort and attach coherence to his creativity.
“Bellflower” (R – 106 minutes) is now playing exclusively at Harkins Valley Art. Visit FirstLook.com for specific showtimes.
Listen to Joseph J. Airdo’s “Movie Maverick” radio segment, every Friday morning at 8:30 a.m. during “The Daily Blender with Jeffry O’Brien” on KBSZ – NBC 1260 AM and 96.1 FM.