“Flower” is a coming of age story in reverse. When we first meet the adolescent main character Erica (Zoey Deutch) she is already jaded by life. Her father is in jail and she is involved in a very dubious plan to earn his bail money. Over the course of time she regains her innocence, flip flopping the usual teen movie formula.
Erica lives with her mom (Kathryn Hahn) and the latest of mom’s new boyfriends-turned-fiancées (Tim Heidecker) in the San Fernando Valley. A hellraiser, Erica and her pals Kala (Dylan Gelula) and Claudine (Maya Eshet) target older men to blackmail. When she has enough cash she hopes to buy dad his freedom. Her rebel-with-a-cause life is turned upside down by the arrival of Luke (Joey Morgan), her troubled soon-to-be stepbrother. Luke brings with him a dark secret that could change everything in Erica’s life for better and for worse.
No spoilers here.
The beauty of “Flower” is less in its wonky storyline and more in its effervescent performances. The down ‘n dirty indie—it was shot in just 16 days by Henry “The Fonz” Winkler’s son Max—focuses on Erica’s journey which rests comfortably in Deutch’s capable arms. The actress, best known for turns in “Before I Fall” and “Why Him?,” navigates the film’s uneven tonality, hurtling over its implicit quirkiness to find the qualities that make us feel for Erica. Do we care about Erica the blackmailer? Not particularly. But we can care about why she resorts to blackmail and that’s where Deutch shines.
“Flower” is all over the place. In its quest to be unconventional it covers a lot of ground. It’s part quirky family drama, part rebellious teen comedy and even part “Bonnie and Clyde” but Deutch and cast, including Morgan as sad sack Luke and the always fantastic Hahn, breathe life into it.