Friday, March 16, 2018

Movie with Abe: Flower

Directed by Max Winkler
Released March 16, 2018

Putting families with teenage children together is never an easy thing, especially if each previously included an only child used to life without siblings. Often, the children aren’t fond of their new parent and the feeling may be mutual, but that’s part of what comes with making a new relationship permanent and being anyone’s child if a first marriage doesn’t work out or last for whatever reason. One rebellious child may do their best to corrupt the other, and it can be extremely interesting to watch the transformation that both undergo as they are become new people thanks to the influence of their new sibling.

Erica (Zoey Deutch) is not a typical teenager. Her father is in jail, and she works to collect the money for his bail by baiting older men into sexual situations that she and her friends can videotape and use to blackmail them. Her mother, Laurie (Kathryn Hahn), is hardly a conventional parent, aware of who the daughter she’s raised is and not trying hard to change that, especially as her relationship with Bob (Tim Heidecker) gets more serious. When Erica meets Bob’s son, Luke (Joey Morgan), whose weight problems have led him to be an introverted social outcast, she tries to get him to come out of his shell while they work to take down a teacher (Adam Scott) who Luke accused years earlier of inappropriate behavior.

Erica is a character who immediately makes an impression, one that manages to stand out from many similar teenagers in films and television who act out seemingly only because they’re bored with their lives and don’t want to conform to expectations that others have of them. Deutch is a true talent, making Erica feel purposeful in her detachment and eager to find something worthwhile in Luke despite her initial snap judgement of his physical appearance. Erica feels like her own person, one likely to get into trouble but also far more intelligent and focused than she appears.

The film’s title and its very suggestive poster allude to a deeply sexual and explicit tone that this film does not have, which is a good thing. This story is entertaining and more complex than it may seem, and it manages not to be overly or excessively inappropriate despite frequent opportunities. Morgan is endearing opposite Deutch, and it’s always fantastic to see Hahn given a great role that allows her to portray a real mess of a character who has no idea how to manage her life. Her “Parks and Recreation” costar Scott also adds layers to what could have been a bland, one-dimensional villain, joined by Dylan Gelula, Maya Eshet, Heidecker, and Eric Edelstein in a talented ensemble. This film may be a brief excerpt of the teenage experiences of these two people, but it’s great fun that manages to be more than fleeting in the process.


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