Directed by: Evan Glodell
Cast: Evan Glodell, Tyler Dawson, Jessie Wiseman
Running Time: 1 hr 46 mins
Release Date: September 16, 2011 (Chicago)
PLOT: Two friends, Woodrow and Aiden, (Glodell and Dawson), build a flame-throwing muscle car while fantasizing about the apocalypse. Woodrow’s world becomes progressively crazy after he discovers his girlfriend (Wiseman) is cheating on him.
WHO’S IT FOR?: Fans of independent film will certainly find something different in the apocalyptic Bellflower. At the same time, it’s “thrift-ster” appeal indicates that this movie could sell out in whole Chicago neighborhoods (you know which ones you are).
EXPECTATIONS: I had only anticipation to carry me into this movie, as Jeff Bayer had taken a liking to it at SXSW, along with others who happened to catch it at the festival.
Evan Glodell as Woodrow: At the center of Bellflower is Glodell’s Woodrow, a young man who has more boyish qualities than just his constant giggling. He has a certain innocence to him, as he is without unlikeable characteristics and is a grimy romantic, through and through. Glodell then carries this character through his whirlwind of events, while covering a complete arc of insane emotions. He can be boyish, and a monster.
Tyler Dawson as Aiden: The side to Woodrow, Aiden is the brains of their operations, but also one who shares the same essentially teenage appreciation for pyrotechnics and cool cars. Compared to Woodrow, Aiden is notably less intriguing, especially with his tendency to say the word “dude” at least twice in every sentence, and contribute to the movie’s sometimes poor dialogue.
Jessie Wiseman as Milly: This is a boy’s movie, and Milly is the one who done Woodrow wrong. While she does have a couple moments in which she is able to assert her presence, Milly is nonetheless a biased representation of whoever must have actually inspired the rage behind Bellflower.
TALKING: At times the dialogue can be laughably bad, as its heavy reliance on improv (or so it seems) only shows how limited the actors’ imaginations can be during certain exchanges. Dude, if you thought Dude Where’s My Car? had some sweet dialogue, you’ll love what they say in Bellflower, dude.
SIGHTS: Bellflower has a special heart for its technical sense, in more ways than one. Heightening a certain spirit to its indie pride, the “Medusa” car, as seen in the movie, with its fuel-injected exhaust flamethrowers and three surveillance cameras, is a fully functioning, real piece of equipment. The same can be said for the real flamethrower, constructed during the movie from spare parts. Even the camera used to capture Bellflower’s true DIY aspect was made by Glodell and his “Coatwolf” cronies. Unfortunately, such engineering is used for some unnecessary pretension, as the cinematography uses blown-out lighting far too often, and even adds in fake scratches on the lens. The lens marks might look real, but it’s the fake washed out Abercrombie & Fitch shirt to the movie’s genuine vintage tee, grimy style.
SOUNDS: Playing against the film’s visual angst, the Bellflower soundtrack utilizes songs by a mumbling Jonathan Keevil that sound like they were recorded with a simple handheld recorder. Keevil’s raw tunes add a mellowness to moments that could be considered nothing by chaotic. It’s certainly a more interesting choice than fueling such moments with more crashing noise and murderous guitars.
BEST SCENE: The third act, before its strange ending, is something to witness, for better or for worse.
ENDING: If I’m correct in my understanding of this nutty conclusion, that means this movie shares the same ending of a bottom-level Nicolas Cage movie. Not a good sign, no matter how “poetic” it might try to be in Bellflower.
QUESTIONS: How do these guys pay the rent?
REWATCHABILITY: After this movie has fully gotten out of my system (when this review is weeks behind me) this would be an interesting movie to revisit. I hope I get to give Bellflower another spin in the next few months.
Bellflower is the film version of the hardcore metalcore ballad that writer/director Evan Glodell would have written if he were more a musician than filmmaker. Clearly harboring angst towards someone who decimated his personal world, this movie is an intense reflection of the feelings that we encounter after returning from the wreckage of a rough break-up – crippling sadness, and pure. f**king. rage. Glodell’s raw expressions of these feelings, which would sound like Every Time I Die in a musical dimension, makes for a certainly unique “revenge” tale.
The escalating chaos of Bellflower ensures its energy, whether the events that happen seem whiny and overdramatic more than darkly poetic. Due to whatever person that hurt writer/director Glodell in the past, this movie completely rages in certain aspects with explosive interactions, a lot of physical fights, and the general wish for the end of the world. Whether one can really connect to such a movie, it still loads its tale with so much pure anger that it’s hard to look away from.
Bellflower is a supped-up, homemade, technical indie spectacle with pretentious tendencies; a sort of coming-of-rage tale that romanticizes the apocalypse by likening the end of the world to a lover crushing your heart. If Glodell’s feelings seem possibly accurate to the death of love, then you’ll be moshing and screaming right along with his personal Bellflower.
FINAL SCORE: 6/10