Fire in the belly – Bellflower review

Bellflower – Starring Evan Glodell, Jessie Wiseman, and Tyler Dawson. Directed by Evan Glodell. Rated MA. By Richard Haridy.

Bellflower is a brash, youthful, imperfect monster of a film filled with jagged tonal shifts, inexplicable character motivations, and big flamethrowers. Equating a relationship breakup with an apocalyptic scenario straight out of Mad Max, this thoroughly iconoclastic picture is one of the most interesting independent features to come out of America in quite some time.

Writer/director/star Evan Glodell plays Woodrow; just your usual young guy living in LA who spends his days building a flamethrower with his best friend, Aiden (Tyler Dawson). One night at a bar, Woodrow meets Milly (Jessie Wiseman), sparking off a passion-filled relationship. Of course, first love doesn’t run smoothly, and it’s not long before bitterness, infidelity, and violence infiltrate this world of slacker hipsters.

Glodell’s debut is undoubtedly an immature work. Barely a sentence of dialogue goes by without the word ‘dude’ inserted like a 21st century punctuation mark, and the entire second half is filled with characters doing things that make no sense at all. But Bellflower is such a genuine and energetic achievement that these flaws ultimately don’t matter. The final forty minutes are endearingly wacko as the film fragments into a grippingly literal take on the youthful sensation that a first breakup is really the end of the world. Glodell also constructed his own cameras (Google ‘Coatwolf Model II’ for a look at the Frankensteinian contraption), giving off a lovely, dirt-infused, Instagram, DIY aesthetic to the piece. There is a tangibly viscous, sticky authenticity to the photography that is quite ground-breaking and all the more remarkable considering the flick was made for around $17,000.

Bellflower will not be to all tastes. Many will find Glodell’s movie (and performance) grating, idiotic, simplistic, or even just boring, and to be honest, it is all of those things. It’s also an authentic, bizarre, aggressive, dynamic beast that cannot be easily overlooked. Sure, it may feel slightly undeveloped or misogynistic by the end, but it also encapsulates the exuberance of youth in a way the is rarely seen in cinema. Bellflower is an amazing mess.

4/5

Bellflower is available on DVD and Blu-ray from November 22, 2012.

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