From the first moment Evan Glodell’s writing/directorial debut, Bellflower, starts – – the audience knows that they are about to watch something at once slightly familiar and yet remarkably unique in almost all aspects. Bellflower is not quite like any movie you have seen. Without giving away any spoilers the film begins as a rather humorous and sad take on a relationship between two late twenty-somethings one of whom is a man obsessed with apocalyptic movies and creating weapons in preparation for the end of times.
The main character fill his days and time with his best bud day dreaming about the ultimate apocalypse in which they will each play roles of the Mad Max/Road Warriortypes. These two men share a child-like joy in the planning of playing these roles in the Hell that will be left after the world as they know it ends. All the more interesting is the fact that these two “dudes” do not even have any sense of their own immaturity or the irony that their adult feet are planted so firmly in adolescence.
The plot takes a turn for the romantic when Woodrow, played by director/writer, Evan Glodell, meets the beautiful and equally odd, Milly. Like Woodrow and his close pal, Aiden, Milly seems to be stuck in a rut of narcissistic immaturity. Milly and Woodrow fall in love but both lack the maturity to navigate the wild woods of a romantic relationship.
It isn’t long before their relationship takes a dead end turn. At that point Bellflower pulls the audience into the darkest corners of damaged heartbreak and rage. Bellflower becomes a devastatingly disturbing apocalyptic journey filtered through the eyes of drug-fueled insanity.
Though filmed on a “shoe string” budget, Glodell, his crew and actors have created a masterful piece of cinema.
Certainly there are flaws along the way. Some of Bellflower plays with “Mumblecore-like” intentions that don’t quite work. However, any flaws are hidden by Glodell’s style of the movie. Brilliantly filmed – – the cinematography, lighting, acting, editing and music bring Bellflower a stunning rage filled life of it’s own. The special effects do not seem like special effects. They look and feel all too real and unexpected. Glodell has cleverly created a highly artistic and powerful study of the Love Wounded Boy-Man Walking. As this metaphor that when merges with the stunted emotionality of the character, Bellflower comes close to the trajectory of Coppola’s cinematic masterpiece, Apocalypse Now. In fact, Bellflower almost manages to make Apocalypse Now seem like a Disney movie. This impact is quite a cinematic feat.
Evan Glodell’s Bellflower deals with pain and frustration that every young adult feels in his/her first loves and quite literally blows them to oblivion. It is a gut punch that would make the strongest of people bend over or, at the very least, squirm in their seats.
This movie is tapping into a current vibe shared by many as we enter the 21st Century. So much is unknown. So much is uncertain. Uncomfortable change and misadventure seem to be in the air. Bellflower plays with that creepy societal feeling to an extreme that turns to an almost manic glee of vengeance. The failure of the characters to have grown into mature/adjusted men and women is presented as a reflection of a generation weaned on TV, bad movies and low expectations. Bellflower grinds into the psyche as a blistering reminder of our shared creation of a generation of people largely misplaced and lost.
Bellflower, like Woodrow’s amped up car called Medusa, speeds, twists, turns, shoots out the very flames of fury and spins out of control into crashing oblivion. Horrible heartbreak speeds through the veins of Woodrow without the boundaries of emotional understanding to know when to put on the breaks or slow down at corner.
Bellflower takes the audience into an apocalypse it will not soon forget and does so without any signal of regret or apology.
This is unbridled hardcore/punk cinema. Bellflower is a testosterone fueled vision of love’s war and devastation. And, Evan Glodell takes no prisoners. No one is spared and no one is innocent as Woodrow’s Medusa takes its fast cruise into Hell.
This is not a film for all tastes but no one can deny it’s raw power and artistic play out and pay off.
It will not leave you feeling good.
It refuses to play by the rules.
The best thing to do is simply get out of the way or hop into Medusa and allow Bellflower‘s angry vision to wash over your senses. It is a ride you will not forget.
The film has been assigned an R-rating for adult themes, graphic sex, nudity, violence, drug use and foul language. It is not for the faint-of-heart.
Off the grid and unhinged, Bellflower is a work of cinematic art that refuses to be ignored. It has been long time that a new filmmaker has created a movie this impressive.
Evan Glodell, 2011