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Zoey Deutch, centre, and Dylan Gelula in Flower.

Courtesy of TARO

rating

1.5 out of 4 stars
  • Flower
  • Opening March 23 (Toronto), March 30 (Ottawa)
  • Directed by Max Winkler
  • Written by Max Winkler, Alex McAulay and Matt Spicer
  • Starring Zoey Deutch and Adam Scott
  • Classification 14A
  • 90 minutes

The new dramedy Flower opens up with an image directly conjured from the Eccentric Indie Film Playbook: After a teenage girl named Erica (Zoey Deutch) finishes performing a sex act on a police officer, she politely asks for some money. Crying poor, the cop gives her a few bucks. Just then, Erica’s two friends pop up from the surrounding woods, one of them briefly wearing a creepy animal mask for no real reason, and reveal they were recording the incident. Now flush with cash, the three teenage girls go on a carefully soundtracked shopping spree in drab Southern California, their sexual exploitation criss-crossing too neatly with lost-in-suburbia ennui.

This, according to the bored, male and perhaps undersexed filmmakers behind Flower, is certainly what it’s like to be a teenage girl in America today. All casual oral sex and carousing in a daily grind against middle-class rage. Or something equally shocking.

As the rest of Flower unfolds – the main story pivots on Erica’s attempts to expose a predatory high-school teacher (Adam Scott) using her best and only weapon: her sexuality – it’s clear that director Max Winkler (son of Henry) and his two fellow screenwriters have no real interest in Erica or her generation as characters. Everyone here is simply a mismanaged thing to be moved around an isn’t-that-shocking storyboard as needed. It’s a shame, as Deutch shows real commitment to a role that demands the exact opposite, and talented players like Scott and his frequent on-screen collaborator Kathryn Hahn (Step Brothers, Parks and Recreation) are wasted.

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