Henry Winkler has a full resume, but he’ll always be known as The Fonz.  His son, television director Max Winkler, will surely continue having a fruitful career as a filmmaker after releasing his sophomore effort Flower, an audacious flick for which he’ll be remembered for.

Flower will disturb you as often as it will put you into fits of laughter.  Winkler’s film doesn’t come as an easy recommendation – a warped sense of humour and ironclad patience through bad decisions are prerequisites.  If you feel fit and you’re looking for something that bravely – and sometimes blindly – dives into “heartwarming depravity”, Flower is the dark comedy for you.

Zoey Deutch (Dirty Grandpa, Why Him?) plays Erica, a teenager who has life figured out (or, so she thinks).  Her turbulent family history has caused her to mature in conniving ways, which include using sex appeal and blackmail to manipulate local creeps.  She celebrates these victories with enabling pals Kala and Claudine (Dylan Gelula, Maya Eshet), undetected by her mother (Kathryn Hahn) and mom’s current boyfriend Bob (Tim Heidecker).  Erica usually gets what she wants, but her deception has caused her to lose touch of genuine emotions.  This creates a huge hurdle when she has to get along with Bob’s son Luke (Joey Morgan), a sensitive kid who is fresh out of rehab.

Erica wants Luke to confide in her;  which is why she insists on helping Luke get even with a local pedophile (Adam Scott).  Her persuasion works, stimulating the teens to stage a plan that involves insinuating photographs that will surely end in a jail sentence for the predator.

The plot and its characters will push buttons with viewers, but Winkler (and co-writers Alex Mcauley and Ingrid Goes West’s Matt Spicer) always provide a dimensional perspective.  Even tense scenes between Erica and the alleged sexual predator have moments of sorrow as he explains his personal fallout, and Erica reconsiders her intentions.  From there, Flower becomes intentionally (and effectively) uncomfortable and complicated.  Opinions and intentions are questioned and spun until new problems arise and create more conflict for these flawed people.

Deutch, Hahn, Heidecker, and Scott are mostly known for their work in comedy, and their experience is used well in this movie.  But, Flower gives these actors the chance to truly blossom in new territory.  As talented as they are, Max Winkler has found a way for their range to grow a few more inches.


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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

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