I saw Flower the other day. It went okay.
I was so ready to like this movie, which is why it makes me upset that I’m writing a review about it that isn’t so flattering. I don’t really have a good summary of this, so here’s one I stole off Google:
Rebellious, quick-witted Erica Vandross (Zoey Deutch) is a 17-year-old firecracker living with her single mom, Laurie, and her mom's new boyfriend, Bob, in L.A.'s San Fernando Valley. When Bob's mentally unbalanced son, Luke, arrives from rehab to live with the family, Erica finds her domestic and personal life overwhelmed. With Luke and her sidekicks Kala and Claudine in tow, Erica acts out by exposing a high school teacher's dark secret.
It sounds like a quirky family sitcom turned into a movie, but it’s definitely not. Erica blackmails older men by giving them blowjobs, then recording herself getting out of their cars and telling them that if they don’t pay her, she’s going to send it to the police. She’s saved up about $12,000 at the start of the movie. Her mom is dating someone named Bob with a son named Luke, who’s in rehab for something…drugs and anxiety? I think? She drags Luke around town and he gets an anxiety attack because he sees a teacher who we later find out Luke claims molested him. Since Erica’s specialty is extorting men out of money, obviously she’s going to take molester teacher down.
Spoilers start here: They kill him super dead by accident and then run away to Mexico. That’s it. That’s the end of the movie.
I’m going to switch it up a little and talk about the negative first. Holy tonal shift Batman! The movie goes from an entertaining edgy teen comedy to an action movie so fast that I think I got whiplash. I think at one point, I blinked, looked over at Evan, and went ????? and he just shrugged and neither of us had any idea what was going on. It felt a lot like someone wrote the first half of the script, then handed it off to someone else to finish, and that person didn’t know it was a comedy and took it really, really seriously. Once we find out the teacher’s dead, Erica runs away to Mexico with Luke. Luke leaves a note that says he kidnapped Erica with his mom and dad. Luke emotionally supports her because on the way to Mexico, we find out that Erica’s money schemes have been in vain. She’s been trying to get her father out of jail, but once she finds out he had been released already and didn’t contact her, she gives up and goes to Luke for support. Guess what happens. They end up having sex in the desert, and Erica tells Luke she’s never actually had sex, just exploited people through oral sex (because that makes it better somehow). This actually bothered me a lot. I understand that the message being conveyed is that Erica has Standards™ even if she has copious amounts of oral sex, but the movie treats her virginity like a gift she gives to Luke. It’s so icky and uncomfortable to think of her virginity as a prize for Luke, especially since the movie started out being about her, and by the end, it’s all about how Luke Loves Erica so much and the movie shifts off of her to Luke, who during this whole thing, has kind of been a static character. If they had treated her sexuality as something she was nonchalant about rather than something special, it would have been a little more forgivable, but…not really. Erica is the driving force of this movie, but then in the end, she turns into a consolation prize for Luke. It’s weird, gross, and it makes me think that this movie wasn’t intentionally written with a strong female character to begin with.
Second, it was completely unnecessary to make the teacher die. Again, it felt like something they left ambiguous because even the writers didn’t even know how they wanted the movie to end. It could have been played off as a really dark comedy if they had kept him alive and not taken themselves so seriously, but instead we got this creepy serious ending that just distracted from how hilarious the movie was before. And this is coming from someone who generally likes shifting genre movies like Hancock.
The mixed, as usual, in the middle:
While I admire Erica’s, uh, business sense, it doesn’t seem like they take pedophilia very seriously. There were a lot of ways they could have handled the topic of child molesting, extortion, and teenagers generally doing stupid things, they didn’t really address any of the actual repercussions that happens in real life. The one time they do talk about it, the teacher gets killed almost immediately after and it never gets discussed again. It’s an interesting take, but it falls flat for me.
I really don’t know how I feel about step siblings being in love. It’s a huge plot point in the movies. At one point, we can tell that Erica is really bringing Luke out of his shell, and it crushes him to sees her making out with the teacher. At first, I thought it was because she’s with the person who supposedly molested him, but nope, it’s because he’s in love with her. It’s awkward. It doesn’t seem like he’s worried about her as a person at all.
The great. There’s still a lot of good about it. The first half of the movie is really, really funny. I laughed a lot at the beginning parts, watching Erica hang out with her friends seemed authentic and truly like a group of 17-year-olds. Their responses to everything is hilarious and witty, and even if nothing’s really happening, I still wanted to focus on the characters because their banter was genuinely funny.
The fridge logic hit me SO HARD with this, and I realize it might have just been me, but I thought it was clever: the teacher supposedly molested Luke, but willingly kisses Erica and makes a pass at her. This didn’t make sense to me, because if he’s a gay child molester, there’s no way he would be interested in Erica. We find out later Luke walked in on the teacher molesting a girl, but since she was too scared to step forward, Luke volunteered to go in her place. It makes sense that he would go after Erica and even go as far as letting her into his house.
I know I mentioned that I didn’t like how the movie ended, but looking at it separately from the first part of the movie, it’s visually very beautiful. The desert and the background are really fitting for their relationship, and it does seem very sweet. It’s still weird as hell. Despite all these good points, it’s not enough to hold together as one cohesive movie for me.
5.5/10. Entertaining and good as two separate movies, oddly unsatisfactory as one movie.