Written and Directed by: Evan Glodell
Starring: Evan Glodell, Jessie Wiseman, Tyler Dawson, Rebekah Brandes, Vincent Grashaw
Woodrow (Evan Glodell) and Aiden (Tyler Dawson) are obsessed with the apocalypse, and they spent their days building flamethrowers and firebreathing muscle cars but for all their preparation they are met only with the apocalyptic wasteland of the mind. Glodell’s debut chronicles a sort of love story, framed by Woodrow and Aiden’s weapon-building and resulting in Woodrow’s broken heart and splintered mind; Bellflower is an experiment in fire.
Woodrow and Aiden are old friends who have moved to California and spend their days tinkering in the garage. They’re obsessed with the apocalypse and Mad Max, they hope for the apocalypse and they’ll be prepared with their leather, their shotguns, flamethrowers, apocalypse bikes, and Medusa, their reinforced firespitting muscle car. The thing is, they seem to mean it, they really wish for the destruction of society and look forward to it as their own violent playground. Woodrow and Aiden are mild guys, but still they are reckless and they get too drunk and pick fights they can’t win just to get their faces smashed in. They idolize the Mad Max films, they refer to each other at various times as Lord Humungous and they desire his violent and charismatic brand of machismo for which he is adored. Woodrow meets Milly (Jessie Wiseman) during a cricket-eating contest at a pub and the two begin a relationship, one that is not to last if the opening scenes of the film are to be trusted. Things eventually fall apart, and Woodrow’s damaged brain produces an incredible fantasy in which he gets lost, creating for himself a world in which he gives over to animal rage. Woodrow lives out his apocalyptic fantasies in his mind and his macho delusions dissolve into violent misogyny right before his eyes.
Glodell is an impressive figure who wrote, directed, produced and starred in Bellflower, and beyond that he constructed all the strange and impressive objects in the film: a flamethrower, a Volvo with a whiskey-dispenser in the passenger-side dashboard, and Medusa. Most amazingly, he built the cameras used in the filming of Bellflower , a fact I find just so incredible. Unable to achieve the aesthetic he wanted, he constructed something new from a combination of digital camera parts and vintage camera parts. That speaks volumes for his ambition, and captures the spirit of independent filmmaking in a way I don’t know that I’ve ever seen. I’ll refrain from drawing comparisons, because I wouldn’t want to give the impression that Bellflower resembles anything else in any way. The visual aesthetic here is mesmerising, Glodell’s unique camera system produces images that burn with a hallucinatory richness of colour. Fire has never looked so incredible. The field of focus is often bizarre and at times, half the screen is out of focus, and sometimes even just certain figures, and Glodell claims this was all done in camera.
Bellflower is exactly what independent cinema is about. It is wild, risky, smart and absolutely gorgeous. There is nothing formulaic or predictable about this movie, every single moment is absolutely original. To watch the film is to see he result of a total need to create, as Glodell handled seemingly every aspect, and did so with no money at all. Solid performances and a colour palette of fire and blood make Bellflower an absolutely burning cinematic presence. It’s evocation of the state of modern manhood and the way it is irreversibly tangled up with pop culture reaches levels of profundity that a million navelgazing mumblecore films never will. That such a film exists, and indeed that such a filmmaker as Glodell exists, speaks of thrilling things to come in the future of cinema.