08 Jun Bellflower (2011) Film Review
Directed by Evan Glodell
Artists unavoidably inject themselves into their work. Their personality, their characteristics, their likes, their prejudices, their fetishes, all these things are skin deep in any sort of artistic endeavor. Displaying your work is an inherent form of self-exposure, unavoidable in its necessity. But it’s true artistic talent that knows how to mitigate their own narcissistic influence, and to offer a statement that stands apart from the person behind it.
Bellflower, the debut film from Evan Glodell, is not one of those success stories. This indie Action Drama races through its 106 minute runtime without a hint of irony, and a lot of excess fire, whiskey, burnt rubber and orange lens filter. Glodell stars in his own film as Woodrow (who is basically Evan), a Midwestern boy who spends his days building stuntman gear with his best friend Aidan for their own amusement. At night they proceed to get blackout drunk and eat grasshoppers live to impress girls. The second date with these girls consists of conversation gems like “remember when we ate those cockroaches?” and “I am so drunk.”
For the entirety of the film I was wondering “This has to be a joke, right? This movie gets intelligent somewhere. It has to.” I was thinking that maybe, by introducing me to these unlikable, insufferable characters that I can’t relate to, the payoff would be that they were all going to kill each other in some brutal, Battle Royale-like fashion. I was almost certain, after the fifth dialogue exchange about how drunk they were or the umpteenth awkward encounter between the romantic leads that this would all lead to their inevitable doom, or at least some sort of sleight of hand that would make me feel like “ok this movie was at least on my side.” No. The movie was never on my side. It was trolling me the entire time, laughing from the darkness, totally oblivious to the meaninglessness of its own existence.
All suspicions were confirmed during the post-screening Q&A sessions. The story and script had come from “a dark time in his life,” Aiden’s character was based on Evan’s best friend, they thought that this scene was “super cool” and that scene was “rad” and for the most part, failed to offer any real insight into what the hell just happened on the screen. That’s because Glodell doesn’t know what happened, it’s just what is going on in his head and he makes no attempt to question it.
Despite all the “horrible” and “dark” things that happen to Woodrow in the movie, you can’t help but feel like it’s still all just a Bro Wet Dream. Get dumped? Fuck her best friend. Burn her shit with a flamethrower. Put flames on a car and burnout in the middle of the street. Get drunk. Fire shotguns. Dude. Bro. Sweet. (Cry.) All the things in this movie, good or bad, rotate around Woodrow, and by direct proxy, Evan. And they all serve to place him in these larger-than-life situations that are really small and unimpressive. It’s definitely masturbatory, with plenty of misogyny and a sociopathic streak going right down the back.
Long story short, if you like this movie I don’t think we can be friends. I know too much about you already.
Bellflower was screened at the 2011 Seattle International Film Festival and was terrible.