Review: The ‘Bellflower’ Tolls to the End

From the 2011 SXSW Film Festival, we review Evan Glodell’s explosive feature debut.
Bellflower Movie
Oscilloscope Laboratories
By  · Published on March 25th, 2011

How would you prepare for the end of the world? Or, better yet…how would you prepare for the post-apocalypse? The day when the world is dust, the population is ravished, the landscapes are deserts, and the road is everywhere and everything. Basically, the world is Australia. How would you prepare? How could you?

You can cower in a corner at the thought, or you can be like Woodrow and Aiden and devote your adult life to building flamethrowers and finding ways to inject your muscle car with steroids so that you can rule the land, run the gamut. And in the meantime, while you wait for the end of the world, you can ride around in a vehicle built for pure testosterone and testicles.

Problems arise, though, when Woodrow (Evan Glodell) and Aiden’s (Tyler Dawson) plans for building their car of destruction are interrupted by Woodrow’s encounter and subsequent relationship with Milly (Jessie Wiseman). The relationship itself doesn’t supply the complications so much as the complications that develop within the romance cause a drastic change in character for the unassuming nice guy Woodrow. Infidelity leads to depression, depression leads to anger, anger leads to places people shouldn’t go and all of a sudden the vehicle built to represent them in a future apocalypse becomes a symbol of Woodrow’s progression/regression from sensitive to pained callousness.

The most refreshing aspect of Bellflower, aside from its obvious love affair with the Mad Max films, is the sort of unaffected bromance between Woodrow and Aiden. When Woodrow’s interests veer from the element that made them friends in the first place (their desire to build an amazing post-apocalyptic vehicle and homemade flamethrower) and has remained their shared passion since childhood, to falling for a girl that registers most of his free time, Aiden never strays off track, nor gets into a mode of jealousy. He’s happy for his friend and he’s there to support him regardless of what happens. Then, when things eventually go south between Woodrow and Milly (in a very uncomfortably affecting moment of witnessed infidelity) Aiden is there for his friend and is everything he needs him to be. It’s an incredibly natural and real depiction of a friendship between two guys.

There is a point where the picture begins to get a little hectic with its focus. It’s deliberate, but it is slightly distracting and detracts a little from the experience up until then. Not so much to negatively affect the viewing highly, but enough to notice and cause a minor shift in thought.

Throughout though, the film’s high points are plenty to keep you engaged and genuinely invested in what’s happening. The characters are sympathetic, especially the two male leads Evan Glodell (who is also the film’s writer/director) and Tyler Dawson who encompass the majority of the picture, and most actions seem justified to the spirit of the character or their arc. It also utilizes some distinct visual elements that really add to the feeling that you are where the world of the film is while also portraying a subtle grit to give it that additional ruggedness you sense in the post-apocalyptic pictures of the ‘80s.

Despite not taking place in the barren wastelands of the future, it’s very much in tune with that tone and integrates it nicely into a story about a guy helping his friend deal with severe anguish at the hands of a heartless woman.