As an official Selection of the Sundance Film Festival, BELLFLOWER is an independent film that peaked my interest. Sometimes you have to take that credential with a grain of salt but the odd and somewhat confused film about love and an obsession with MAD MAX was definitely a visually fun and intriguing journey.
Two friends, Woodrow (Evan Glodell) and Aiden (Tyler Dawson), mission in life is to be prepared for a post-apocalyptic world inspired by Mel Gibson’s MAD MAX. In between working on a homemade flamethrower and drinking, Woodrow meets Milly (Jessie Wiseman) in a bug-eating contest. Their relationship is immediate but completely believable and this is where the story really excelled. For their first date they take a two-day road trip to a dive meatloaf joint and then trade their car for an old rundown motorcycle on the journey back. Their love appears sweet, tender and sincere, but when Woodrow discovers Milly cheating on him things spiral out of control in bloody archaic chaos.
Writer, director and actor Evan Glodell has an interesting vision. Cinematically, the film is quite stunning giving an unfocussed gloss on the background images. At first I was unsure of some of the technique like the use of an iris scope but eventually I quit worrying about the meaning and just admired the beauty. The colors are vibrant and the cinematography frames every scene to organic perfection.
The performances by all the actors are impressively natural. The dialogue and friendships between Woodrow and Aiden is particularly believable as best friends who are more like brothers. Aiden is outgoing and Woodrow is slightly more introverted but both are loyal good-hearted fellas. While their dedication to building the post apocalyptic machines for their make believe futuristic gang, Mother Medusa, is pretty cool, their purpose never seemed fully realized. I appreciated how crazy the world got after the emotional and physical pain from the bad breakup got, much like the characters prepared for, but the connection did seem to be a bit of a stretch, not quite coming together
I liked aspects of BELLFLOWER and thought many pieces could and should be used in separate films, but these pieces as they were never fully came together. The post apocalyptic flamethrower and car coupled with the destructive insanity of the climax made for some cool scenes visually that would be enough to satisfy a younger version of myself, but the older version of me needs a little more cohesiveness. However, I commend these young filmmakers and I have no doubt that Glodell and his crew behind the camera and in front have a future making films.
Video: (1080p High Definition 2.35:1) Despite some of the camera shots having dirt on the lens, which I’m not sure was on purpose or not, this is a visually stunning film and like I said before one of it’s greatest assets.
Audio: (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The music is a strong force in the film and the audio is blended nicely with some of the quieter dialogue mixed with flamethrowers and car engines.
Behind the Scenes of Bellflower (23:42): I officially love these guys. This is a fantastic featurette about a group of people led by director and writer Evan Glodell that made a great first movie with basically determination and passion as their funding. Well done.
Medusa Rundown (10:11): Evan Glodell gives a detailed tour of the incredibly awesome apocalyptic car they built for the film. Great for any car enthusiasts.
Outtakes (7:58): This has one of the funniest outtakes I’ve seen due to the serious tone of the scene.
Original Theatrical Trailer
Trailers for other Oscilloscope Releases: THE LAW, TERRIBLE HAPPY, BEAUTIFUL LOSERS, EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP, RARE EXPORTS: A CHRISTMAS TALE