There’s that underlining feeling of painful awkwardness that you feel when you’re watching someone trying to be cool but failing miserably at it all throughout Flower.
Max Winkler’s latest film, opening at the Tribeca Film Festival recounts the story of 17-year-old Erica (Zoey Deutch) and her group of friends in suburban America. Erica’s schedule is very busy. Its divided between school, the bowling alley and extorting money from elderly men after giving them a blowjob in order to make bail for her imprisoned father. Don’t get mislead by the plot, there is not one ounce of gravitas in this film. Erica seems very pleased with her occupation and even cultivates a certain fascination for penises that she draws in a very precious notebook. This life of leisure and pleasure is suddenly disrupted when her mother’s boyfriend, along with his son, move into the house. Expecting a sexy half brother she might mingle with, Erica is deeply disillusioned when she sees overweight, mentally unstable, just-out-of-rehab, pill addict Luke (Joey Morgan) at her doorstep. Being a considerate sister and human being she decides to help out poor Luke. After he declines the amicable fellatio Erica was offering she decides to go an other way and avenge her brother who was allegedly molested by a teacher.
What was supposed to be a quirky dark comedy unfortunately never truly unfolds properly due to a total lack of credibility and empathy towards the characters and their actions. Erica, who is supposed to represent a rebellious and outspoken young girl just comes out as a bland and vulgar Lolita. Luckily enough the magnetic acting of Zoey Deutch saves the character from complete vacuity and insufflates the little charm and authenticity that is otherwise absent. The personalities of the different characters are only defined by the, more odd than eccentric, punch lines they spill out and end up being extremely shallow. The end result is that none of the characters are relatable or likable. Their quest lacks motivation and that is because the story line negates to focus on the nature of the emotions and relationships built throughout the picture. Instead it focuses on cinematographic gimmicks that fall out of place and leave us with a feeling of dissatisfaction because characters such as Luke or the relationship between Erica and her mother, who are interesting, aren’t dug deep enough.
Cool and quirky is usually something Americans are very good at. But it’s not because you shoot a hand held close up of a face that you’ll get emotion and it’s not because a character acts unusually with a cool music in the background that you’ll get atmosphere.
Nevertheless, the over all big winners of the movie are actors Zoey Deutch and Joey Morgan who manage to perform around an arid and underdeveloped script.