Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Movie Review: "Flower" (2018)

Director: Max Winkler
Year: 2018
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hours, 30 minutes

A 17-year-old named Erica, who makes money by blackmailing men that she seduces, begins an odd relationship with her mentally unstable soon-to-be step-brother Luke. Erica hatches a plan to use her sexuality to get even with the man Luke accused of molesting him many years ago.
"Everybody's a stranger until you get to know them." (Image provided by courtesy of The Orchard)
Sometimes, it's just too much to ask us to empathize with a character who in no way has earned our empathy. "Flower" is directed by Max Winkler, who has been involved in making a lot of episodes of television shows, but not many movies. He also helped write the screenplay along with Matt Spicer ("Ingrid Goes West") and Alex McCauley (HBO's "Eastbound and Down"). The film revolves around a 17-year-old girl named Erica (Zoey Deutch), who uses her looks and sexually adventurous mindset to seduce older men. She performs fellatio on them then proceeds to blackmail them after her friends have secretly recorded the liaison. Erica and her friends justify their actions because the men they are entrapping are obviously perverts who deserve it, at least in their minds. When Erica's mom Laurie (Kathryn Hahn) asks her boyfriend Bob (Tim Heidecker) to move in with her, he brings his mentally unstable former drug addict son Luke (Joey Morgan) with him. Though their relationship starts off contentious, the more Erica learns about Luke, the more she wants to find a way to fix him. Erica believes the best way to help is to use her "special skills" to take revenge on the man she believes is the root of Luke's problems: a teacher named Will (Adam Scott), who Luke accused of molesting him many years ago.
"I like sucking dick, it's not gonna be a burden." (Image provided by courtesy of The Orchard)
On a technical level, "Flower" is a very competently made movie. The actors involved in this picture give excellent performances (Deutch in particular), the pacing is solid, and it can even be funny and entertaining at times. Sometimes it's hard to take your eyes off of what's happening on-screen. Is this a good or a bad thing? Both, because it's like watching a trainwreck in progress. That being said, where this movie falters is in its writing and its overall message. Erica as a character seems sociopathic at times, and yet we are supposed to find her endearing because the script calls for us to love her. She has little concern for other people, but we as the audience are supposed to feel bad for her when somebody hurts her feelings. At one point, Laurie screams at her daughter because she has lost the will to parent her. We can't say we blame her because Erica seems like a monster child. Most of Erica's actions make her wholly unlikable. She just isn't an angsty teenager, she is a straight-up criminal. It's almost as if the script wants her to be a 'woke' modern woman who embraces her sexuality. This would be well and good and something we could absolutely get behind, but she does so by using it as a weapon to exploit others, which is just a way to create more negative connotations around sex and the expression of it by women. It treats very serious issues like they are inconsequential, then writes them off as dark humor. Whatever emotions the writers wanted us to feel are never earned unless said emotion is disgust towards the protagonists.
"I'm sorry for drugging you. Here's your sweatshirt." (Image provided by courtesy of The Orchard)
Unfortunately, "Flower" is not as profound or thought-provoking as it thinks it is. At its core, it is still a formulaic boy-meets-girl rom-com. It follows the 'confrontation, find common ground, declaration of love, happily ever after' narrative, only this time, the story is surrounded by drug abuse, unhealthy familial relationships, blackmail, and child molestation. We're sure somebody out there will enjoy this movie and appreciate what it is trying to do or say, it's just not entirely for us.
"Flower" is available on all major VOD platforms NOW! Check out the trailer here!

My Rating: 5/10
BigJ's Rating: 5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~5.8/10
RT Rating: ~51%
Do we recommend this movie: Meh.

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