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1 rating: 3.0
A movie directed by Evan Glodell

Bellflower follows two friends as they venture out into the world to begin their adult lives. Literally all their free time is spent building flame-throwers and weapons of mass destruction in hopes that a global apocalypse will occur and clear the runway … see full wiki

Tags: Movies
Director: Evan Glodell
Genre: Action, Drama, Romance
MPAA Rating: R
1 review about Bellflower

Watching Mad Max May Lead to Insanity

  • Aug 6, 2011
Star Rating:

Bellflower is the only movie I know of in which just about everything happens for no reason. It trudges its way through an opening that establishes almost nothing, apart from characters that drink a lot. It transitions into a twisted tale of unexplained obsession before devolving into a sadistic bloodbath. It then ends by calling into question every moment leading up to it – meaning we’re forced to assume that much of what we saw did not actually happen. Writer/director Evan Glodell (who’s also the star) constructs each scene with the same arrogant posturing of someone who has a secret and isn’t willing to share it; he takes the time to create a frightening macho dreamscape that’s nothing short of stylish, and then, for reasons known only to him, he populates it with indeterminate characters and embroils them in a plot with no purpose.
Set in the city Bellflower, California, it tells the story of childhood friends Woodrow (Glodell) and Aiden (Tyler Dawson). Lifelong fans of the movie Mad Max, they moved to Los Angeles to pursue their dream of building a muscle car that would get them through the apocalypse. As the film progresses, we see them – Aiden, mostly – fashioning a car that will come to be known as Medusa; it’s complete with rear exhaust pipes that shoot fire, surveillance cameras, and a loudspeaker intercom system. We also see them working on a flamethrower, and many opening shots reveal them testing portable gas tanks with the same reckless abandon of the cast of Jackass. How they’re financially able to make their dream a reality is never explained. We never once see them working. We only see them at bars, at parties, or in their respective homes, both of which look uncannily like dens for shooting up heroine.

Their straightforward plan is thrown a curveball when Woodrow is introduced to a woman named Milly (Jessie Wiseman). Through a process kept hidden from the audience, the two fall hard in love, and in due time are feeding into their dangerous impulses. On a whim, for example, they drive all the way out to Texas and seek out the nastiest, scariest bar/diner, the same one Woodrow and Aiden didn’t have the nerve to enter on their way to California. The only apparent purpose of this scene is to watch as Woodrow gets sucker punched by a biker, who impudently slapped Milly on the behind. We also linger over a makeshift drinking station on the dashboard of Woodrow’s car; with a few turns of a tuner knob, a dispensed paper cup will be filled with pure bourbon. Their next impulsive move is trading that car for an old motorcycle, which they both agree looks apocalyptic.
Upon their return to Los Angeles, the story lags in a series of pointless scenes before inexplicably shifting gears. We’re introduced to Milly’s friend, Courtney (Rebekah Brandes), who has a birthday party that involves even more drinking. We then witness as Aiden drunkenly approaches a woman who only moments earlier told off a man for being a jerk. We meet Milly’s roommate, Mike (Vincent Gershaw, also the co-producer and co-editor), who’s just as in the dark about his purpose in the movie as we are. What began as a slow, badly paced nonevent quickly gives way to drama and violence, Glodell becoming fixated on scenes exploring infidelity, betrayal, bloodletting, vomiting, and apparently madness. What led up to this change is anyone’s guess. Perhaps the film is not about Woodrow’s obsession, but rather obsession itself.

Multiple viewings of this film may be required if one is to get anything out of the final five minutes, which unfairly reversed just about everything I thought I knew. Leaving the theater, I was confused beyond all reason, and more than a little annoyed at Glodell. What is he trying to tell us, here? That you don’t need to wait for the apocalypse when it’s already happening within you? That a guy should never choose a chick over his buddy? That watching Mad Max may lead to insanity? I’m trying hard, but somehow, I can’t get the light bulb over my head to switch on.
If there is a saving grace, it would be in the way the film is photographed. Many of the early scenes of Aiden, for example, are saturated with light, and the edges of each shot are intentionally out of focus. The subject of the scene is automatically made the center of attention. It’s an unconventional but effective technique that lends a surreal quality. Alas, it doesn’t carry through to the end. Could it be that Bellflower is in fact a cross between a guy movie and a psychological thriller, one that plays more like a nightmare than a cohesive mystery? I don’t know, and that’s the problem. When you can’t follow a story, when nothing happens for any particular reason, you don’t have a movie so much as exercise in futility. This is Glodell’s first feature film, so maybe the best is yet to come. I can only hope.


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August 06, 2011
Hm...I dunno. Sounds mildly interesting but your rating and your descriptions give me pause. I saw this playing at the theater nearby, so perhaps I'll catch an early bird screening for $ 6. Nice review, Chris!
August 07, 2011
In my humble opinion, early bird screenings are the only way to go -- no audience to distract you. See this movie if you're really that curious about it. Judging by the positive reaction within the indie community, I could very well be in the minority.
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