Rated R, 106 min. Directed by Evan Glodell. Starring Evan Glodell, Jessie Wiseman, Tyler Dawson, Rebekah Brandes, Vincent Grashaw.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Aug. 12, 2011
As I write this, London is burning, Japan is irradiated, and Rick Perry is on the verge of formally announcing his presidential intentions. In short, the Apocalypse – or something more secular, and therefore worse – is ramping up to run us down, kind of like the Toecutter's retro-futuristic biker gang in George Miller's Mad Max or the Humungus' motley crew in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. "You can run, but you can't hide," spieled the Mohawked leatherman Wez in the latter, which is about as apt a description as you're likely to find of the testosterone-and-Max-fueled friendship at the heart of the hellaciously original Bellflower. Southern California slackers Woodrow (writer/director Glodell) and Aiden (Dawson) are fixated (well past the point of normalcy) on Miller's post-apocalyptic, Eighties-era scenarios. Inseparable geek buds, they've actually DIY'd the crude ’n' rude mechanics of the death of humanity, including a fully functioning flamethrower and a storm-black ’72 Buick Skylark with "Medusa" painted on the side (and exhaust-pipe flamethrowers for extra conflagrational fun). Enter Milly (Wiseman), a spunky blonde who meets Woodrow during a drunken cricket-eating contest. What was once a bromance as sure and solid as death itself begins to fray as sort-of-fearsome Woodrow and totally fearless Milly evolve into a couple and threaten to leave Aiden behind. Or, at least, that's what seems to be happening, for a while.
Glodell's film is chopped and cut much like the Medusa and the hypermasculine personal mythologies of Aiden and Woodrow. The film’s timeline is jangled, its characters are unreliable but oddly sympathetic, and the whole hot mess is drenched in borderline-nauseating, supersaturated yellows and greens, evoking a world that's sliding off the edge of sanity and into a some weird, homoerotic dream state with an epic stratumj of emotional metal fatigue. Call it mumbledoom. All three leads are righteously believable (if not all there), and there's no argument surrounding Bellflower's sheer, inexhaustible badassness. Glodell created the film's distinctive, hazy look by homebrewing his own camera rigs and attachments, and the result is a film that looks like no other in recent memory. Replete with occasional moments of grunge on the lens and other clear indicators of its ultra-indie origins, Bellflower is not perfect, it's post-perfect … which is exactly the way reality feels right about now. (See "Things That Make You go Boom," August 12, for an interview with Evan Glodell.)