Late Bloomers – SXSW 2023

Courtesy of We're All Late Bloomers, LLC. Photo credit: John de Menil.

Late Bloomers is a coming-of-age dark comedy about a recently single musician who ends up in physical therapy and has to grow up.

Director Lisa Steen and screenwriter Anna Greenfield return to SXSW for the first time since short film Step Daddy premiered in 2019. Steen directed all four of Greenfield’s short film scripts–including Sundowners in 2019–so it’s only natural that she’s behind the camera for the feature film.

This time around, Greenfield’s script focuses on Louise (Karen Gillan), a Brooklynite in her late 20s. She’s single, a musician, and even if she won’t admit to anyone, let alone herself, she’s battling depression. What happens in this film is that Louise ends up falling off of the window ledge and breaks her hip. Listen, if your ex is not answering their door, you probably shouldn’t try climbing onto the ledge and break into the place. It’s not even the HAHA funny but a situation that one could see coming from a mile a way. It’s a dark comedy so it’s kind of movie law that a terrible event will more or less force an immature person to grow up. In any event, Louise’s broken hip forces her to undergo physical therapy.

It’s while she’s in the PT award in which Louise rooms with Antonina (Margaret Sophie Stein). While serving as a coming-of-age story, Greenfield’s script has no shortage of comedic moments. For instance, Antonina is an elder Polish woman and doesn’t speak English. The language barrier proves to be a problem but Louise ends up taking care of her. It’s one of those scenarios where Louise has no choice but to start growing up. Her mother, Dorothy (Talia Balsam), is dealing with dementia on the opposite side of the country. Even though Louise is still acting immature, it’s not an understatement to say that she just needs to grow up already.

The script touches on themes familiar in some of Greenfield’s previous short film scripts, especially Sundowners. In this film, the comedy comes through how Louise responds to situations. Karen Gillan delivers a beautiful performance of a millennial that eventually learns to come of age in Late Bloomers. This ought to remind audiences that she’s more than just Nebula in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. But at the same time, doing those films is what allows for an actress like Gillan to perform in independent films.

DIRECTOR: Lisa Steen
SCREENWRITER: Anna Greenfield
CAST: Karen Gillan, Margaret Sophie Stein, Jermaine Fowler, with Talia Balsam and Kevin Nealon

Late Bloomers holds its world premiere during the 2023 SXSW Film & TV Festival in the Narrative Feature Competition. Grade: 4/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.