Sunday, June 24, 2018

Video review: "Flower"

Erica is 17 years old and a certifiable “wild child.” Played in “Flower” with verve and confidence by Zoey Deutsch, her M.O. is to party all the time and manipulate everyone she encounters. Her favorite scam is enticing older men into sexual encounters, having her friends film it and then blackmail them by threatening to release the video.

Director Max Winkler, who co-write the script with Alex McAuley and Matt Spicer, manages to present us with some great characters, but then isn’t sure what to do with them.

Kathryn Hahn plays Erica’s mom, a bawdy woman bitter about her own misspent youth. She’s now taken up with a nice guy, Bob (Tim Heidecker), who mortifies Erica on a daily basis with his hopeless normalcy. Even worse, as the story opens his 18-year-old son, Luke (Joey Morgan), is returning home after spending time in rehab.

Relishing the chance to have a torrid liaison with her stepbrother and shock everyone, Erica is miffed when Luke turns out to be a painfully shy, overweight lad who is completely resistant to her sexual overtures. Things start out rough between them, but eventually an unexpected friendship starts to blossom.

Arriving late in the game is Adam Scott as Will, an older man (to Erica) that she and her friends play around with lusting after when they encounter him at the bowling alley. It turns out Will and Luke have an unexpected shared past, one filled with pain and misery for the both of them, which will get explored with some grim developments.

The best reason to watch this movie is to enjoy Deutsch’s performance as a young woman who has many deplorable qualities, but is one some level admirable -- or, at least, enviable -- for the way she attacks life like an opponent that must be defeated.

“Flower” is an uneven but bracing portrait of an American original.

Bonus features aren’t extensive, being limited to a feature-length commentary track featuring Winkler and Deutch. I think the best commentaries include both members of the creative team and crew, so it’s nice to see director and star collaborating.



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