Flower delivers an impressive character study of a young rebellious girl trying to help her stepbrother whilst dealing with her own problems.
Zoey Deutch delivers in Flower well and truly. Her acting career is not extensive, so far, but she is clearly up and coming and placing herself in a range of different films that relay different character intentions. In Before I Fall she showed a privileged bully, Set It Up she presents an overworked and overused worker, yet Flower is a film she will be remembered for in five years’ time. It’s her film. An outstanding dark comedy which I was surprisingly impressed by.
The lead character Erica Vandross is not one that is difficult to analyse. In Flower she reigns hell with her dangerous potty mouth, she excels at being edgy and she naturally becomes the centre of attention. Her wild personality is defined by her parents – a father who has ended up in prison, so essentially absent, and a mother who displays all the basics of a best friend trying to cover up the dormant space left by her dad but has conveniently forgotten what is important – being a mum. It’s the sad case of a lost child who did not get the opportunity to grow up.
Flower’s ultimate premise comes to fruition when the mother forces a relationship between Erica and her new stepbrother Luke, who has just left rehab and has suicidal tendencies due to a dark past with an accused abusive high school teacher. Erica surrounds herself with friends who endorse her behaviour as some sort of dysfunctional social support system, which gives her the kind of leadership to take this teacher down with her group of friends and in turn, help her new stepbrother, who she has formed an unorthodox relationship with.
Flower is a character study primarily. A study that articulates what happens when you push someone like Erica into such a corner, who is clearly in pain and suppresses her sadness with a great beaming smile and idolising herself amongst a group of peers. The opening of the movie displays her sleazy motives – she entraps grown men into blackmail by getting her friends to record her secretly giving them blowjobs – that is how she makes her money. She is 17 years old, so the entire sexual arrangement is illegal for the male. I can guess that a few audiences will see this side of her personality as an undesirable element of the story, but Flower is not scared to enter the darker places of her personality to make its ultimate point. Many similar traits of her character come through from this moment on, allowing her positive moments to shine through glaringly.
With Erica being staggeringly problematic as a character you will probably question whether you like her. The film does not tone down her repetitive behaviour. If you understand her situation you will probably embrace the character. Flower always has this underlying sadness that veils itself under a smile or a joke, and it is telling what Erica’s true motives are by the end of the film. When you reach the final scenes and you see Erica smile, you will understand what it actually means. You only hope that the pain she suffers from is finally healed.
Flower offers a divisive and wild character, that will confuse your judgements but ultimately you will take a liking to her due to her willingness to help her stepbrother. Erica represents that friend you have probably had in the past, who makes questionable, untamed decisions, making you wonder if it is some buried torment. Flower is a character study and an extremely applaudable one, which holds a memorable performance from Zoey Deutch.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.