Flower, the movie directed by Max Winkler, (Yes, the son of the Fonz) and starting Zoey Deutch as Erica, a 17-year old dysfunctional and warm-hearted teen is not that easily dissected. First, it may be a good idea to get some buzzword adjectives out-of-the-way: coming-of-age, rebellious, dark comedy, and tantalizing; there, done. The reality is that flower is interesting because it is incredibly entertaining, very mistaken, funny indeed, and will fill anyone with critical thinking skills with ambivalence, not to mention that it will send moralists into a rage.
Flower also stars Katherine Hanh as Laurie (Erica’s Mom). Hanh, as usual is great and the role adds to her solid career following stellar performances in works like I love Dick, Transparent, and Captain Fantastic. In Flower, Laurie is in a boundary-less relationship with her daughter, their dynamic reveals a co-dependency between two people striving to hold on to one another and their insular world while at the same time recognizing the need for a different reality. The two actresses have great chemistry and set the tone for the entire film. As their relationship spirals into various frenzied directions, so does the plot. Deutch’s great performance is in part facilitated by the deep connection between the two women. The dynamics set forth by the mother daughter relationship defines Erica outside of the home and in the chaos that follows, and also defines Laurie in the relationship she’s desperately trying to have with Bob (Tim Heidecker). When Bob’s son, Luke (Joey Morgan) comes out of rehab and goes to live with the newly-formed family, Erica and Luke have to find their own way as siblings, friends, opposites, and more.
The plot of the film is basically about Erica attempting to individuate and influence her reality by engaging in fellatio as a purely transactional act with older men who are committing statutory rape. Erica easily dismisses the transactions, as she states, if one breaks it down, a penis is just a thumb without a nail. Erica and her friends use these transactions to extort monies, it seems only fair, or does it? This is the part of Flower that causes visceral reactions from viewers and splits their moral core. One thought is that Erica is empowering herself by being in control and exploring her sexual power. Seemingly, these transactions do not diminish her ability to be vulnerable and open to love—but, this conclusion is misguided.
Remember when Vladimir Nabokov wrote “Lolita” and some readers (and later viewers of Stanley Kubrick’s 1962 film based on the novel) thought it was great for the wrong reasons? “Lolita” is great, but not because it is a “love” story or is sexually empowering for young women (it is neither of those things). “Lolita” is great because it’s a study on villainy and the complexity of depicting sexual predators and identifying them in the fabric of society; not to mention that it’s even harder to bring them to justice. Flower is no “Lolita” or even Lolita, the film. A deeper look at Flower begs the question, whose fantasy is this? Is it Deutch and Hahn’s? The answer is no, it is not the actresses’, even though they make the film worth watching. Flower depicts the idea of what sexual empowerment for a teenage girl looks and feels like from the perspective of three dudes, Alex McAulay, Max Winkler, and Matt Spicer—give me a fucking break!
R for crude sexual content and language throughout, graphic nude drawings, some drug content, and a brief violent image
Monday April 9 at 8:00 PM
Tuesday April 10 at 8:00 PM