29 February 2012

Movies: Bellflower

Bellflower (2011) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1242599/

Indie Drama

After watching "The Road Warrior" as kids a couple of dudes make it their life mission to prepare for the apocalypse by building flame throwers, shooting guns, starting a gang (of just the two of them) called "Mother Medusa", then building a car tricked out with flame-throwing pipes, a smokescreen and other james-bondish devices.  There's more to the film than that, though. It is also about how one of them meets a girl, falls in love, then deals with love lost, and its impact on those around them.

Surprisingly not a chick-flick despite the romance stuff. There's enough muscle-car, fire, fights, beatings and stabbings to sate blood lust.  I have to say that this is one of the few films where two people meet and it genuinely looks like they develop and experience a relationship over time. Most flicks just end up "they meet and jump in the sack in 5 minutes or less" with the audience expected to fill in the blanks so they can make sense out of why that chick would date down like that in the first place. Not so here.

But, keep in mind, this is an independent film, starring the writer and director of the film and made on a shoestring budget with a bunch of folks I've never heard of. The shots are gritty. There's gunk on the camera lens from time to time. Lots of hand-held guerrilla-style filming. But it works - it works really well for this film.
They did build the Medusa car and all its gadgets really do work, same thing with the flame thrower. Heck the writer/director built the camera used to film the movie. They did a good job on this film, story-wise, acting-wise and production-wise. A labor of love that transcends its budget. I thought the first half of the film seemed a bit more coherent than the remainder of the film, but in retrospect I think that was intentional to parallel how things are falling apart for the protagonist.

I realize that seeing Sundance Film Festival logos on a film isn't a guarantee for film enjoyment. The same goes for Cannes films. But at least they're a start. I've seen films that had lots of Sundance or Cannes buzz about 'em and they did nothing for me. Happily for me this was not the case here.
I was rather surprised at how much I enjoyed the film by the end. Definitely a whole exceeding the sum of its parts.

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