DVD Review: Flower — starring Zoey Deutch

By , Contributor
Director Max Winkler's Flower starts off as one thing and rather abruptly morphs into another. The first half is an intriguing and funny examination of a new "instant family"—Laurie (Kathryn Hahn) marries Bob (Tim Heidecker). The former has a promiscuous teen daughter, Erica (Zoey Deutch), the latter has a neurotic teen son, Luke (Joey Morgan). The new step-siblings form an incredibly odd pairing. Erica and her friends spend their off time luring older men in their small town into sexual situations, subsequently blackmailing them with the evidence. Luke, struggling with recovery from drug addiction and a host of apparent mental health issues, is flummoxed by his "sister" and her immediate offers to cheer him up with fellatio.

Thanks largely to bang-up performances by all of the above (especially Deutch, 23 in real life but convincingly playing 17), Flower is ultimately worth the 90-minute time investment. Once Erica and her gang target teacher Will (Adam Scott), who Luke insists sexually abused him as a child, Winkler's (and co-writers Alex McAulay and Matt Spicer) scenario gets even more interesting.

Unfortunately, the second half is largely run of the mill. In fact, the first half suggests a more darkly comic variation on Lady Bird (due to excellent mother/daughter interplay between Hahn and Deutch). The second half falls into territory better covered by the recent Baby Driver, which in turn covered material handled better by True Romance, which itself mined a vein explored in the superior Badlands. What happens when you Xerox a scan of a fax? Each subsequent copy looks worse. Flower simply loses inspiration as it becomes a typical 'young lovers on the lam' yarn.

But again, the performances feel fresh and that saves the entire affair. Winkler paints himself into a plot corner and takes the easy way out. It's not a fun finish per se, but at the same time it doesn't ruin the movie. Complex and unpleasant issues are touched in in the film's first half, but Winkler and company didn't quite have the gumption to follow through with equally complex resolutions.

Not available on Blu-ray, Lionsgate's Flower DVD (out June 19) includes a commentary track by director Max Winkler and star Zoey Deutch.
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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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