Reviewed by: Zombie Boy
What's it about
A group of twentysomethings living in California meet, drink, love, and have their relationships combust into huge tracts of repulsive violence in this absolutely brilliant film.
Is it good movie?
Woodrow and Aiden are best friends who moved out to California in the hopes of making their Mad Max-inspired vision come true: namely building a flame-thrower. That and having a bad ass car, in preparation for any future apocalyptic scenario, is about all to which they aspire. Milly is a similarly dysfunctional, hard-drinking soul, and after meeting at a cricket-eating contest at a bar she and Woodrow start a tumultuous relationship that inevitably takes down everyone around them. Literally. All of their relationships implode, and their friends self-destruct in fantastic ways in the fallout.
I gotta tell you, I watch a lot of films, but Bellflower went up my ass and built a summer home there. It is a hallucinatory journey through very real relationships, and highlights emotions we’ve all felt in a very surreal way. This is a film about the grief of heartache, with the violence of the thoughts you have in such a state played out in the flesh. After an adorable courtship, wherein you really get to know and like all the characters, life takes over and Woodrow and Milly’s relationship sours. And when they split, they split like an atom. The ensuing force rips through all of their friends like tissue paper.
I think it’s fair to say that Bellflower broke my heart. Even though the bloody and broken ending is foreshadowed at the beginning of the film, I kept shouting and gesticulating at the tragedy on the screen to just stop. The Jonathan Keevil sountrack is low-key and powerful, and the silicon imaging cameras used to capture the film bathe the emotional carnage in an almost eldritch yellow haze. Between the music, the photography, and the stream of consciousness editing style, I defy you to not get sucked into the film and batted around like a cat toy.
On a final note, as you will see in the special features, the Medusa car is 100% real. Everything it does in the film is does in real life.
Video / Audio
Video: 1080p, of course, with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Apparently the cameras were homemade silicon imaging cameras, and between those and the inspired cinematography by Joel Hodge, this is one fine-looking film.
Audio: The audio is as much of an additional character here as the photography. There are two audio tracks: a DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 surround and PCM 2.0 stereo, along with optional English subtitles.
Behind the Scenes of Bellflower: This is a 23-minute doc that’s really more an array of interviews than a real making of piece, but it’s still great. It shows the level of camaraderie of Coatwolf, the assumed name of the collective of people responsible for the film, and the trials and tribulations of putting literally everything on the line for their cinematic dream. If this film didn’t sell they’d all have been pretty effed, and that kind of dedication and near-stupidity is impressive to me.
Medusa Rundown: This is just what it says: a rundown on the Medusa car. It blew me away that the thing is 100% real. The smokescreen, flamethrower exhaust, even the goddamn security cameras. All real. They drove the thing cross-country to promote the film, and this piece is sure to give all you motorheads a proper boner.
Outtakes: Even though the beginning of the film is affable and even humorous, by the time you get to the nut-wrenching finale, watching some more festive bloopers just might keep you from walking blindly out into traffic. So the inclusion of this footage was a good idea.
Rounding out the features is the requisite theatrical trailer. It also comes with a DVD copy, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Bellflower is beautiful and heartbreaking, hallucinatory and all too real. It is an exquisitely torturous study on grief and the domino effect of the explosion of a relationship in a small cluster of people. It draws you in, sets you up, then gathers your guts into its fist and pulls. The soundtrack and photography are just as affecting as the emotional content, and all together this may very well be the best film I’ve seen all year. And I watch a lot of movies. Please watch it immediately.