Everybody Has A Blast: BELLFLOWER Film Review

By at August 5, 2011 | 12:17 am | Print

4.5 / 5 stars

Bellflower Movie PosterThere’s a new guy in the DIY film world named Evan Glodell, and he must have suffered a hell of a breakup at some point in his 30 years of life. Because in Glodell’s first feature, the sweetly named Bellflower, love is a serious contact sport, full of tricked out cars, heavy drinking, fists to the face, and plenty of fire. I don’t recall a film in which such a tender, wistful onscreen romance turned so gleefully, unpredictably dangerous. Glodell’s slavish dedication to his unique indie style keeps Bellflower far away from formulaic standard — and effectively keeps an audience on the edge of its seat.

Glodell, who wrote, directed, co-edited, co-produced, and stars in the film, is Woodrow, a displaced Wisconsinite hanging in California with his fellow cheesehead runaway, Aiden (Tyler Dawson). The pair, deeply affected by Mad Max as kids, spend their time creating the perfect flamethrower and being best buddies, until Woodrow falls in love with the rambunctious Milly (the bold Jessie Wiseman). Considering Woodrow and Milly meet over a barroom dare, and then drive to a Texas dive for their first date, it’s obvious their love affair is going to be a passionate and incendiary one.

But, in surprising fashion, it’s also deeply innocent and even moving. Glodell and Wiseman give off a warm attraction, but they do so like two middle-school kids in puppy love. Their banter energizes the screen, and their sweetness fill the air with that new-love smell.

Evan Glodell in Bellflower

As the glow fades — and Milly knows from the very beginning that it will have to — Bellflower’s enclosed environment spins wickedly out of control, dropping injured characters in a vicious, downward spiral and even leaving some schmutz on the camera lens (a little much, but okay, we’ll take it). Cinematographer Joel Hodge fills Glodell’s world with barely focused shots, a reflection of the characters’ barely focused lives, as well as harsh, oversaturated yellows. His achievement is a dizzyish, claustrophobic landscape, one where a devil-may-care circle of people hang on the edge of disaster. And we’re not even sure why.

It’s impossible not to get caught up in a movie made with such brash boldness and brass balls. There are no apologies for scenes where flamethrowing fun is just one degree away from Jackass gratuitousness, and no regrets for characters conveying unabashed levels of affection and jealousy. It’s the kind of confidence that gives Glodell and company an assured hand in the editing room too, crafting a final sequence that whips through events that might have been, should have been, or maybe never were. When all is said and done, after all the blood, puke and bruised faces, Bellflower is not ashamed to really be about the love between two buddies. (And their apocalyptic, Mad Max-inspired car, of course.)

The car "Medusa" in the film Bellflower

So what would Glodell like to do next? A 500 Days of Summer type of romance? A serial killer horror movie? How about a suspense thriller? If the frames that make up Bellflower are any indication, he should have his pick of the litter. Bring it on.

Drama Featured Independent Film Movie Posters Reviews , , , ,

Trackbacks For This Post

  1. […] when some of the more exciting films from the 2011 festival hit wider audiences and bigger buzz. Bellflower. The Trip. If A Tree Falls. TrollHunter. Another Earth. Proof that the IFFBoston team has not only […]

  2. […] Now, Submarine, and two of my personal indie favorites of the past decade, Littlerock and Bellflower. This is barely scratching the IFFB surface – and doesn’t take into account the festival’s […]


Leave a Reply