PLOT: Woodrow (Evan Glodell), and Aiden (Tyler Dawson) are two life-long best friends, who happen to be obsessed with the MAD MAX films. They constantly fantasize about what it would be like to live in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, and to that end, they build their own flame-thrower, and turn a used Skylark into a badass, flame throwing vehicle dubbed "Mother Medusa". In the meantime, Woodrow falls in love with Milly (Jessie Wiseman), but after a few blissful weeks, their relationship takes a dark turn, and threatens to send Woodrow over the edge.
REVIEW: I'm absolutely disgusted with myself for missing BELLFLOWER at Sundance. I had heard from a bunch of other writers that it was worth checking out, but I allowed myself to miss it in the interest of checking out other, higher-profile titles, that I'm sure weren't half the movie this is. Had I seen it there- it would have been my favorite film of the festival.
Thanks to Fantasia, I've finally gotten the chance to check out BELLFLOWER, and boy oh boy, did I dig this flick. To be sure, it's not for everyone. It's a love it or hate it type of film, and I have several collegues that didn't like it for absolutely genuine reasons. It's a tough flick to pin down. One thing it's not is the apocalyptic story it's being sold as. Ignore people who tell you this is a Mumblecore MAD MAX. If anything, BELLFLOWER is a closer cinematic cousin to FIGHT CLUB.
At it's heart, BELLFLOWER is a dark and sobering love story involving some really likable, really creative, but also really dangerous characters. The first forty minutes of BELLFLOWER are quite charming. Everything about the romance between Woodrow and Milly seems genuine, from the first "meet cute" (which involves eating live crickets), to their blissfull road trip to Texas (complete with a car that has it's own Jack Daniels fountain hooked into the dash). I also loved the dynamic between Woodrow and his pal Aiden, which reminds me of relationships I have with my own friends; the type where no matter what, you always have each other's back.
But damn, things take a mighty sinister turn about halfway into the film, and from there this becomes an increasingly dark, harrowing ride. I don't want to give too much away, as this is something that should be seen with fresh eyes, but suffice to say BELLFLOWER is unlike any film I've seen in years- and f**k do I love it for that!
There's no doubt in my mind that writer-director-star Evan Glodell is one of the most exciting talents to blast his way through the indie film circuit in years. Shot with a miniscule, almost non-existent budget, with non-professional (but damn good) actors, BELLFLOWER shows that creativity wins out over big-budgets every time. Glodell and his cinematographer not only built the cool car and flamethrower from the film, but they even make their own cameras, giving the film a unique, sun-soaked, apocalyptic look that makes me wish George Miller would give these guys a call and let them shoot FURY ROAD.
I f**kin' loved every second of BELLFLOWER, and as it stands, not only is BELLFLOWER my favorite film of Fantasia, but it's also my favorite film of the year (so far). This is an indie-genre masterpiece, and something that commands respect (which it does, even among those who hate it). See it!