There are many films where the performances are greater than the story itself and, unfortunately, Flower is one of these films. Directed by Max Winkler, with a script by Max McAulay, Matt Spicer, and Winkler, the film starts off well enough and has a lot of good character beats. However, everything changes around halfway through when the film takes a strange and very dark turn, veering completely off-course.
Erica (Zoey Deutch) and her friends, Claudine (Maya Eshet) and Kala (Dylan Gelula), plan and scheme together. They make money by having Erica give guys blow jobs and then use recorded evidence for blackmail. Erica is convinced that this is all well and good because she’s doing it to not-so-great men, but she also has issues of her own. She’s convinced herself that her absent father, who’s spent some time in jail, will be coming back for her–even though she’s left him several messages with no response. Her mother, Laurie (Kathryn Hahn), has moved on with a new man named Dale (Eric Edelstein).
Dale is good to Laurie and they seem genuinely happy, much to the annoyance of Erica. The young woman gets even more annoyed upon finding out she has a future stepbrother, Luke (Joey Morgan). Luke, fresh out of rehab, isn’t exactly forthcoming and doesn’t like to share much, but Erica tries her hardest (to the point where she offers to give him a blowjob) to be friendly. Eventually, Erica discovers that Luke was molested as a young boy by a former teacher named Will (Adam Scott) and she and her friends plot to take their revenge on him.
Flower tries to find its happy medium, but it settles for trying to give itself an ending that doesn’t quite fit the characters. When it begins, the film seems like it knows where it wants to go and potentially how to get there, leading the audience on an interesting ride of character development and interactions. This drastically changes after Erica decides to go after Luke’s molester. She seems to want to do it in order to help Luke as she sees how much it’s affecting him, and it’s a nice character moment for her.
It doesn’t take long before Erica’s mission becomes about something else when she develops a small crush on Will. This makes Luke jealous and Flower gets caught in a game of its own making despite it not making any sense to the narrative. Somehow, it takes a turn down a road that becomes very awkward to watch–two future step-siblings suddenly growing to love each other romantically. It’s something that is predictable and problematic at the same time. Luke and Erica’s relationship seems to be defined by this even though the steps it takes to get there feel forced and entirely unneeded. Beyond that, Flower gets super dark and yet, none of the consequences of this darkness are ever explored. It becomes a turning point in the development of Luke and Erica as characters, but there isn’t any immense growth as this change comes right near the end of the film. Since there are seemingly no repercussions to their psyche, the dark twist feels tacked on and out of place.
Despite a terribly mediocre film and a very messy plot, Zoey Deutch is a standout. She gives her all in a role that feels far more fleshed out because of her portrayal. Because of Deutch, we are able to see and feel Erica’s underlying hurt regarding her father’s absence, frustration over the family life she can never have, and a sense of justice (though heavily misused). Kathryn Hahn is, as usual, really good and has been overlooked for years, and she always sells her role no matter what. Joey Morgan as Luke is fine, but can’t quite match Deutch’s performance. And Adam Scott, who can play a combination of sweet, cute, creepy and asshole at will, treads murky waters as Will to the point where you’re questioning whether he’s done what Luke says he’s done.
Flower is messy and never quite knows what message it’s sending or what it wants to be. Is it a crime drama? Is there a need for Erica and Luke to end up together? Why the sudden change in plot direction? Why does the film try to tackle child molestation when it doesn’t intend to use it for anything other than as a plot device? It’s a mediocre film that loses its way about halfway through and never regains its footing. It also portrays a romance that isn’t needed and is also very weird. Flower, even with all of its issues, is a case where Zoey Deutch’s performance is far superior than the movie itself.
Flower, even with all of its issues, is a case where Zoey Deutch’s performance is far superior than the movie itself.