Written and Directed by Evan Glodell
Featuring Evan Glodell, Rebekah Brandes, Jessie Wiseman, Tyler Dawson, Vincent Grashaw, Zack Kraus, Keghan Hurst, Alexandra Boylan
BELLFLOWER is a movie aimed at dudes. Not just any old dudes, but, you know, really cool dudes, who like setting things on fire and fucking unhappy blondes and buying stuff at the hardware store.
And the movie was actually made by really cool dudes who like constructing incendiary devices, casting themselves opposite blonde actresses and negotiating a substantial line of credit at their local Home Depot. Wait… that’s Art imitating Life imitating Art, right? How cool is that?
The narrative revolves around two dudes – let’s refer to them as Main Dude and Other Dude - who think they are actually really cool because they build flamethrowers, prematurely ejaculate and drop litter while riding a tricycle and looking sad. They justify this anti-social behavior by making awed reference to the coming apocalypse and explaining how they’ve been doing this since they were kids because they once saw MAD MAX on a scratchy VHS. And they’re dudes, dude. And the whole shooting flames is not a denial thing, oh no, nor is it anything to do with penises. It’s just two dudes having a good time because they are so cool and to do anything else with their lives (like, uh, get a job) would be bogus.
Oh, and they have a muscle car called the Medusa which also shoots flames out of the back because that is the coolest dude thing ever. The giddy heights of duditude. Dudetastic. Dudacious. Dudamatic. You will never meet more dudely dudes.
But still, these dudes are unhappy. Boy, are they miserable. They angst. They grow ironic beards. They smoke cigarettes and drink beer, and still the pain doesn’t go away. They don’t suffer the same pains as the rest of us, the usual job-money-where’s–the-rent-coming-from mundanity, because these guys are waaaay too cool for that, and, besides, they have rich parents back in Ohio who pay their bills. These dudes lie in bed and stare into space and suck on that ciggie and they’re, you know, deeply stressed by the whole Situation.
The Situation, of course, stems from not one, but two, Manic Pixie Dream Girls. Main Dude falls for a MPDG he meets at a cricket eating competition in a bar because they are so cool and ironic. And don’t mind destroying innocent insect lives in order to titillate their friends. Other Dude, who appears to be a functional alcoholic, like uber dudes Keith Richards and George Bush Jr., falls for MPDG’s Friend, who is also a MPDG because no other type of women are allowed to occupy space in this particular dudevironment.
Main Dude should have seen the writing on the wall during a road trip (to TEXAS, because these dudes are so totally fucking cool that they pull shit like that, like, all the time) with the MPDG: she waves her hand out of the car window while they drive. This is a sure indication that she is an indie movie cliché and not to be trusted. However, he doesn’t heed the warnings, and is somewhat surprised when he catches her in bed with another guy (some dude who is actually paying MPDG’s rent, so probably thinks he has a claim to pleasure himself using her sexy bits). Romance comes to a screeching halt and Main Dude gets sad. Really sad. Epically, nihilistically, apocalyptically sad – you have no idea exactly how sad because you’re not that sensitive. So he goes out and crashes his totally cool vintage motorcycle, and ends up with a lot of bandages. Presumably he has some kind of medical insurance despite having no visible means of support. Probably on his Dad’s plan or something – the screenplay makes no attempt to address this issue.
So, in a desperate attempt to quell the tides of his misery, Main Dude starts finger-banging MPDG’s Friend, destroying any chance that Other Dude might have had of a relationship with her. Other Dude isn’t that bothered, as he was only interested in MPDG’s Friend as a potential beard anyway, and he’s plenty busy building flamethrowers WHOOSH! This allows MPDG’s Friend to achieve full, independent MPDG status as she takes over tongue sarnie duties with Main Dude. Perhaps, like the characters in J.G. Ballard’s Crash, she gets excited by flesh wounds? She is way cooler than the first MPDG because she carries a gun in her purse. A GUN! In her PURSE! How super awesome cool is that?
As soon as the gun appears, so does a glimmer of hope that these people might start shooting each other and let the audience go home sooner rather than later. No such luck. The much-discussed apocalypse, which might bring a merciful end to proceedings, also fails to manifest itself. Instead of a satisfying death-by-zombie-horde, these dreary souls end up on what might be termed a “spiral” or even “maelstrom” of violence. Because, you know, there’s nothing cooler than violence, especially when it’s perpetrated by really cool dudes and their whiny Manic Pixie Dream Girlfriends.
BELLFLOWER has come out of Sundance and SXSW with an attendant buzz. The director/writer/self-styled Main Dude Evan Glodell has been hailed as some kind of “mad genius”. Cinematographer Joel Hodge has also been praised, and, indeed, he must have worked hard to achieve that unique shot-on-a-dirty-iPhone-using-the-Hipstamatic-App look. For ‘buzz’ read ‘hipster conspiracy’, as various bloggers and reviewers buy into the hype that BELLFLOWER is so utterly awesome and ahead of its time that anyone who doesn’t think it’s the best indie film ever made must actually be uncool and In No Way A Dude. Because true dudes know, man, they know.
I’m not a dude. Therefore I am not afraid to call BELLFLOWER what it is – the masturbatory effluence of emotional and intellectual homunculi. It’s not out till August, so you’ll have to make a note in your calendar not to see it then
[Editor's note: actress Rebekah Brandes started her career in low budget horror flicks like Slaughter Party and Evil Ever After with, uh, This Editor.]