Going into a movie cold can be a pretty astounding experience. There are no pre-conceived notions, no spoilers to work through, or scenes from the trailer leading you a certain way. I saw Flower because I heard it was “interesting” and I remember Zoey Deutch from last year’s Rebel in the Rye, where she dazzled in a minor role. She pretty much breaks out here, the central figure in a charming indie, that unfolds somewhat surprisingly.
Deutch is Erica, a seventeen year old who blows dirty old men while her friends document and then blackmails them. Ostensibly, she is doing this as a vigilante, in an attempt to stop rampant pedophilia, but really she’s trying to save money to free her father from incarceration. Erica’s mom (the always reliable Kathryn Hahn), is living with her new boyfriend Bob (Tim Heidecker), which Erica is already against, but it’s when Bob’s son Luke (Joey Morgan), fresh from a stint in rehab, moves in with them, that things really take a turn. Luke, a heavy set teenager is at first shy and reserved, prone to panic attacks, but the abrasive and bubbly Erica soon wins him over, folding him into her group of friends and their after-school shenanigans. The kids’ next target is a suspected pedophile (also consistently reliable Adam Scott) they discover while bowling and Erica starts to lay the ground work: staking out his house, flirting with him at the grocery store. And, as they usually do in these situations, things take a turn.
Co-written by Matt Spicer (who co-wrote and directed last year’s Ingrid Goes West), Alex McAulay, and Max Winkler (who also directed), the strikes against Flower are mostly due to some plot points that make no sense, but are required to move the plot where it needs to go, and the way it disregards any depth of character to anyone besides Erica (and even she sometimes feels like a point rather than a person). The ending was a whimper, not a bang, but Deutch’s bubbly and effortless performance anchors the film helps to forgive the unearned and unremarkable outcome.
My Grade – C+