Flower hits select theaters on March 16th.
By I. Simon
Coming of age films are often hit or miss for me, though more often hit, but not in an exceptional way. Once in a while, we get something exceptional in that genre, such as The Spectacular Now, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, or Easy A, but it seems we hardly get anything like those, or even something that is simply great. That said, I had somewhat high hopes for Flower, as Matt Spicer, who co-wrote the script and was a producer on the film, surprised us last year with his feature debut Ingrid Goes West (which he co-wrote & directed), one of my favorite comedies of 2017. While I didn’t get an amazing film in Flower, I definitely got one that is not only above average, but somewhat fresh too.
Co-written & directed by Max Winkler, and starring Zoey Deutch (Everybody Wants Some!!), Kathryn Hahn (Step Brothers), Tim Heidecker (Decker), Adam Scott (Parks and Recreation), and Joey Morgan (Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse), Flower follows Erica Vandross (Deutch), a rebellious 17 year old who is living with her single mom (Hahn) and her mom’s new boyfriend, Bob (Heidecker), in L.A.’s San Fernando Valley. When Bob’s mentally unbalanced son Luke (Morgan) arrives from rehab to live with the family, Erica finds her domestic and personal life overwhelmed. Deciding to give Luke a chance by trying to connect with him, Erica learns that Luke was sexually assaulted at a young age. She then tries to help him expose the man who is allegedly responsible.
Winkler’s direction & script, which he co-wrote with Spicer, are pretty superb. The film has a really cool style that reminded me of Ingrid Goes West, which isn’t surprising as Matt Spicer directed that movie. The characters are pretty good, mostly thanks to the performances that elevate them. That especially applies to Erica as a character, who can be a bit of a jerk, but at the same time, she is human and you care for her. I also appreciated that the film gives scenes for Erica to breathe and develop as a character, thus resulting me in liking her more and more.
As a comedy, Flower works very well. I did find myself laughing quite an amount. Tonally, this film manages to strike a great balance between being a comedy while going in darker areas without ever coming off as jarring. The drama scenes have more weight to them than I expected, the dialogue works well enough, and the narrative goes in directions that I did not expect it to. That is both an advantage and a disadvantage of Flower, as the third act is a bit uneven due to certain plot developments that felt rushed and not as explored as the elements in the first two acts. Still, the third act is not weak enough to the point where it detracts from the great first two acts, and it doesn’t stop Flower from being a pretty great watch.
Purely on a technical level, the film is better in those areas than I expected for a comedy these days. The cinematography is really good, and the editing is very tight. The film has this really nice aesthetic, and shots and scenes transition from one to another well enough.
But the main reason why Flower is worth a watch is because of of Zoey Deutch’s excellent performance. Deutch brings charisma and humanity into Erica that made me sympathize with Erica as a character, being able to take certain lines that would normally make her come off as a jerk, and instead made me laugh. She nails both the comedic aspects and the more dramatic aspects of her character. It truly is an excellent performance, and it may very likely go down as one of the best lead female performances of 2018.
Overall, I have to say that I really liked Flower. It’s not just a great coming of age/dark-comedy, but also a great film overall, mostly thanks to an excellent performance from Zoey Deutch. I definitely recommend Flower, especially if you like the genre and yearn for something new.
I give Flower a B+.