A dark comedy about meaning and connection, Flower gives actress Zoey Deutch a big opportunity with a star-making role.
Erica Vandross (Zoey Deutch), a defiant 17-year old, lives with her mother, Laurie, (Kathryn Hahn) and Laurie’s boyfriend Bob (Tim Heidecker). With her father in prison, Erica goes around town with her friends, Kala (Dylan Gelula) and Claudine (Maya Eshet), to blackmail police officers.
Bob’s son, Luke, moves in with them after he gets out of rehab. Erica and Luke don’t get off to a good start but they persevere and get to know each other better. As the two of them become friends, Luke offers his help to Erica, who with Kala and Claudine, expose high school teacher Will (Adam Scott). The results are treacherous to say the least and Erica is forced to grow up really quick. The relationship with Luke is hard to describe without getting into spoiler territory.
There’s a lot of angst mixed in with some dark comedic moments. If there’s a screenwriter who knows something about the meaning and connection that Erica is looking for, it’s co-screenwriter Matt Spicer. Spicer directed and co-wrote last summer’s underrated gem, Ingrid Goes West, so it’s no surprise to see how far he and his co-writers are willing to take things. If one were to replace Zoey’s Erica with Aubrey Plaza’s Ingrid, it would not be the same film even as Luke is dealing with some mental issues of his own that need addressing.
For Winkler’s credit and given how female-driven the film is, it’s great to see so many woman working in key roles on the film. Whether it’s director of photography Carolina Costa, editor Sarah Beth Shapiro, or production designer Tricia Robertson, etc. Having Costa has DP is a nice thing on this film because it helps to present Erica’s world through a female gaze rather than the male gaze that a film like this might offer.
As an actress, Deutch has had a few chances to lead a film but when it comes to her role in Flower, the actress manages to take things to the next level. It isn’t enough to call it a performance of a life time just yet but it was only a matter of time before young actress turned out a serious star-turning role. There’s a lot to be loved about her performance in the film. Erica is a character that doesn’t come around often, if at all, in a teen movie. More often than not, the character would be played by a guy so my hat’s tipped for flipping the gender roles on this one.
Once actress Kathryn Hahn was freed of her Crossing Jordan responsibilities, the world has gotten to know the actress for her comedy chops. Hahn’s got some great material in the film, including a scene when Erica and Laurie go at it with so much emotional anger. It’s those performances that are a gift to humanity.
Flower may live on the edge of dark comedy and go in an era that nobody expects but the reign of Zoey Deutch is only beginning.
DIRECTOR: Max Winkler
SCREENWRITERS: Max Winkler & Matt Spicer and Alex McAulay
CAST: Zoey Deutch, Kathryn Hahn, Tim Heidecker, Adam Scott, Joey Morgan, and Dylan Gelula
Premiering at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival, The Orchard opens Flower on March 16, 2018 with a theatrical expansion to follow.