IN EVAN GLODELL'S premiere as director/writer/actor/producer/editor, his excitement is palpable. His eagerness and passion has led him to create the scuzzy, mystifying Bellflower, which manages to combine radically different moods into a stylish debut that foreshadows immense potential—but still bears many marks of immaturity.
In part a tale of bromance, Bellflower centers around BFFs Woodrow (Glodell) and Aiden (Tyler Dawson), two hard-partying twentynothing slackers who share twin obsessions with Mad Max-as-post-apocalyptic-blueprint and with developing the perfect flamethrower to attach on the back of a hotrod. There's an aw-shucks boyishness to the pair's rapport, a page torn from the affable deliveries between male friends in Apatow flicks. But the familiar, easygoing mood proves misleading when trouble comes to town in the form of a curvy blonde—and still, even then, it's not at all clear how far up Shit Creek this ride's prepared to paddle.
The meeting between Woodrow and Milly (Jessie Wiseman) is perhaps the first point at which Glodell's tour de force begins to loosen its grip, after Milly proves her (attractiveness? Sassiness? Willingness to put anything in her mouth?) self by hoovering up the winning number of live crickets in a dive bar challenge. Romance blooms, as do self-conscious confessions, whiskey-fueled road trips, and eventually jealousy, fire, destruction, betrayal, and one really super sweet shot of the flame-throwing hotrod doing a burnout.
As Glodell's bombast picks up speed and the characters tilt from scofflaw to psychopath, blood flows more steadily, and a massive head injury suffered by Woodrow drops a grainy mist of doubt on his perceptions and actions. While the film gets suddenly tougher and unhinged in contrast to its shoe-gazing first half, it retains its boyish simplicity; Woodrow's shuffling sweetness is every bit as simplistic and immature as his suffering and vengeance. Bellflower is unique, ambitious, and exciting, but at the end of the day, it doesn't say anything more revelatory than "bros before hos." Which typically doesn't require so much stabbing to get across.