What I had heard about Bellflower, an indie movie labor-of-love shot on a shoestring budget, was a tad misleading:
Bellflower does indeed contain that subplot— and it’s an important clue to the sanity and stunted development of two of its main characters—but it it’s actually a serious movie about the relationships and immaturity of a group of California twentysomethings who don’t quite fit in.
Evan Glodell is the man behind Bellflower. He wrote, directed, and produced the movie and stars as its lead character, a man-boy named Woodrow. Along with his best friend Aiden (Tyler Dawson), they build the aforementioned car and flamethrower as part of the realization of a childhood dream that is directly attached to Mad Max movies.
In the meantime, Woodrow falls head over heels for a girl named Milly (Jessie Wiseman), who says upfront that the relationship won’t work out. But Woodrow is just crazy enough to share her penchant for impulsive decision-making and suddenly the two are on a road trip to Texas on their first date.
From here things get a bit surreal. Cinematographer Joel Hodge built a homemade camera rig out of vintage parts with Glodell, and the yellow-hued rich colors of the film are very distinctive, as is the smudges on the camera lens that appear every so often.
The look of the movie has the overall effect of making it seem less realistic and more like some twisted fairy tale. It’s easy to forgive Glodell for some melodramatic devices in the script because everything that happens after those moments is so truthful and alive. If Woodrow and Aiden were out of touch with their feelings and reality before, the movie takes those childhood fears and sensibilities to their inevitable gory end.
Bellflower is a surprising film all around, not just because of its far-out plot twists and distinctive DIY look, but because it illuminates a highly-charged part of the modern male psyche and the restlessness of a very specific kind of young adult.
A 23-minute doc that follows Bellflower from its original concept through to its well-received 2011 Sundance Film Festival premiere is included, as well as a 10-minute tour of the Medusa car, and 8 minutes of outtakes.