The thing about Evan Glodell’s Bellflower is, it is the first movie of this century to truly reflect how fucking lost, stuck, and stagnant people in their twenties are. The film is centered around two friends, Woodrow (Glodell) and Aiden (Tyler Dawson, who kind of looks like Matthew Goode), obsessed with creating the ultimate flame-throwing car in preparation for the apocalypse so they can rule over the ruins based on how cool and intimidating they look. And yes, it is Mad Max inspired.
Their plans for finishing their creation are somewhat derailed when Woodrow meets Milly (Jessie Wiseman) at a bar and challenges her in a cricket eating contest (I know, gross). At first, he is painfully shy, but Milly soon brings out his ribald and ruffian side. Her impetuosity is evident on their first date, when she insists that Woodrow takes her to the most disgusting restaurant he can think of, which is in Texas. Even though they’re in Los Angeles (a fact that is never actually stated, maybe because it’s obvious from the look and name of the movie), Milly is unfazed by the distance required to get to this “restaurant,” a place that is actually more of a stand that serves meat loaf for $1.25.
The two share an instant connection that is only fortified on the road trip, particularly since Woodrow’s car is capable of dispensing whiskey from the dashboard area of the passenger side. They return after about a week, just in time for the birthday party of Milly’s best friend, Courtney (Rebekah Brandes). It is there that the tension between Milly and her roommate, Mike (Vincent Grashaw), intensifies (Mike has a crush on Milly, who clearly does not reciprocate said crush). The trio of Aiden, Woodrow, and Milly split early from the party, leaving Courtney and Mike bewildered by the relationship that has formed in such a brief amount of time.
Perhaps the best and most deliberate choice about Glodell’s debut (and by the way, he trumped the Orson Welles rule of thumb by not only starring, writing, directing, and producing the film, but editing it as well) is that he never addresses the fact that none of the characters in Bellflower seem to have to worry about a job or where they’re going to come up with the money for the various parts of “Medusa.” This is something that seems to reflect the notion that no one of “our generation” has any sort of career type job. An intimation that is basically accurate. Those who are in their early, mid, and late twenties have been dealt a hand that apparently promotes no other option but slackerdom and alcoholism.
This little detail aside, there is also the issue of what constitutes a “modern love.” In Bellflower, loyalty and possession are still the chief concepts touted, even if they veer on the chauvinistic side as the movie draws to a close. Milly is, naturally, the one to falter first in terms of maintaining her sense of fidelity. Ironically, she chooses Mike, her undesirable roommate, to cheat on Woodrow with. Thinking Woodrow is going to be off on a Medusa jaunt with Aiden, Milly does not anticipate it when Woodrow bursts in to find them in an extremely compromising position.
The revelation of Milly’s sluttery sends Woodrow into a depressive frenzy that takes the narrative of Bellflower in unexpected directions. In many ways, it starts to remind you of the reckless alacrity of Natural Born Killers. Not every audience member will be amenable to the feckless nature of Bellflower‘s shift in the course of plot. To those audience members I say: Fuck yourself.