The Movie Waffler New Release Review (VOD) - FLOWER | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review (VOD) - FLOWER

flower zoey deutch review
A teen blackmails the men of her town in an attempt to raise enough money to bail her father out of jail.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Max Winkler

Starring: Zoey Deutch, Kathyrn Hahn, Tim Heidecker, Adam Scott, Joey Morgan

flower zoey deutch poster

In her short time acting, Zoey Deutch has already racked up almost as many credits as her actress mother Lea Thompson, yet she remains very much an indie darling, with that big break into mainstream cinema proving thus far elusive. Any casting director who watches Flower (whose director, Max Winkler, has a famous parent of his own in Henry 'The Fonz') should be reaching for their rolodex to contact Deutch's agent, as she delivers a truly magnetic performance, one that elevates an otherwise mediocre indie offering.

flower zoey deutch

Deutch is Erica, a rebellious 17-year-old whom we first meet with her head in the lap of a police deputy, the latest victim of the honey trap blackmail scam she runs with her friends, Kala (Dylan Gelula) and Claudine (Maya Eshet). In an attempt to raise enough cash to bail her no good father from jail, Erica has been seducing the men of her California town and extorting money from her victims with the threat of uploading footage of them receiving fellatio from an underage girl to the web.

Erica lives at home with her feckless mother, Laurie (Kathryn Hahn), and her strait-laced current boyfriend, Bob (Tim Heidecker), whose son, Luke (Joey Morgan), joins the makeshift family upon release from rehab, where he struggled to recover from drug and weight issues. At her mother's behest, Erica reluctantly attempts to befriend the introverted Luke, even offering him a blow job, which he declines, offending her in the process. When Luke confesses that he was sexually abused by a local man, Will (Adam Scott), Erica decides to exact vengeance by making Will the latest victim of her extortion scheme. Trouble is, Erica has had a crush on Will for quite some time, and is she even sure Luke is telling the truth?

flower zoey deutch

Flower certainly has an intriguing set-up, one which reads on paper like material for the sort of nihilistic teen drama you might expect from Larry Clark or Harmony Korine. As rendered by Winkler, it's a sunny, bubblegum comedy that's so in love with its protagonist it never steps back to examine just how messed up and sociopathic she really is. The film seems to view Erica as some sort of heroine of the 'Me Too' era for entrapping 'pedos' (though the US is one of few countries where she would actually be considered underage), but her willingness to engage in sexual activities with these men as part of her blackmail scheme serves to make a mockery of the idea of consent, only adding fuel to sort of "she was asking for it" accusations that dog genuine abuse victims. Winkler's film never addresses the effect such actions may have on its anti-heroine, and somewhat hypocritically, the camera gladly ogles her young body throughout.

While Deutch is present in every frame, ultimately Flower devolves into another story of a shy male who lucks out by encountering an attractive female who somehow falls for him without any plausible explanation as to why she might find him attractive. Aside from Luke's weight issues, he's practically devoid of personality, the polar opposite of the hyper-extroverted Erica. I know they say opposites attract, but this is really pushing it.

flower zoey deutch

In spite of its shallowness and superficial approach to taboo subjects like pedophilia and teen suicide, Flower is admittedly never dull, thanks largely to a performance from Deutch that demands you sit up and take notice of her talents. She's backed up by an equally adept supporting cast, with Hahn particularly good as her loving but parentally neglectful mother, as is Scott as the slithery, is he or isn't he, target of her possibly misguided venom. Flower is a bubblegum movie, one you can chew and roll around your mouth for 90 minutes, but once you spit it out you may find a bitter aftertaste.

Flower is on VOD June 12th.