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1 review, 4 user ratings

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Flowers (2003)
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by Erik Childress

"A Place Where I Don't Care If I Know Your Name"
1 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2003 SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST FILM FESTIVAL: Have you ever watched a lead character whom you didnít like for 90 minutes? Maybe you didnít start out disliking him, but gradually over the course of a film you begin to despise every action he takes, every word he breathes? Why would you want to spend time with this guy? Better yet, why make a movie about him and think that people will care? Thatís what Flowers is, a 90-minute meditation on a boring guy who slowly spirals into jerkdom and takes the audience on a ride through a possible last-minute redemption only to be given ďwhat forĒ as the screen goes black.

In a sort of Coyote Ugly for guys, minus the hot girls, wet clothes, dancing and jiggling (come to think of it, Coyote Ugly already was for guys), this time itís a male getting a job for a bartender at an exclusive bar. Bill (Justin Hagan) is another struggling actor looking for cash until his ship comes in. In the meantime, itís a dinghy in the form of the pimp daddy caddy always parked outside his apartment. Itís owner, Garland (Ralph McCain) also owns a little speakeasy kind of place that serves $10 drinks and has a staunch rule of ďno profanity.Ē When the place really hits it big it will likely expand to ďno drinkingĒ and ďno talking

Fellow bartender and resident bouncer, Cass (Daniel Dresner), keeps Bill in check but nevertheless exposes (and encourages) him to the world of cocaine and amorous casting directors. Should he be surprised then when his work duties begin to suffer and he manages to hack off the one guy who could be a problem for the joint? Garland checks in periodically to pride himself in staying awake for days at a time; a result of using nose candy the right way. Obviously heís never had to sit through this movie.

Any film should ask itself the following question before the writing stage begins: What am I and my characters about? Of course only a screenplay that was actually alive could ask such a question, which Flowers is decidedly not. Dry characters in a slice of life that would be sent back for being cold does not a movie make. Bill is a boring character in the beginning and a few lines of dialogue and powder only increase our wonderment of why anyone in an audience would want to follow his story.

Bill may just be an entry point into this underground world of all-night bars and the clientle it attracts, but even the bar is boring. Itís a darkly-lit hole in the wall that keeps the cops at bay courtesy of payoffs, but why does anyone go there? The mood is drab, the drinks are overpriced and thereís barely any action going on in there. Writer/director Kirven Blount thus has two inanimate objects (the bar and Bill) struggling for our attention when all we want to do is call it a night, go home and sleep.

The first hour is as extended first act into a plotline that could actually provide some depth but arrives well past the point of concern. Everyoneís favorite bartender, Piper Perabo, shows up as Iris for the rock-bottom recovery act (the final 20 minutes) which immediately defies all reality from the get-go. Garland drives Bill out of the city (first seen in a pointless flash-forward) to his farm residence until he can clean-up. Heís not indebted to him for anything but his barkeep job and considering heís alienated his employees, casting agents, his girlfriend and the new screw-buddy (Mary Catherine Garrison) he stuck up for, what prevents him from taking off and starting life anew someplace else?

Billís clean-and-sober routine puts him in the middle of Peraboís community theater and into the potential for the kind of meaningful relationship he didnít have with his girlfriend, the skeezy casting agent, the screw-buddy or the audience. If only Iris would let down her guard, but we donít want her to because we hate Bill and everything he does with the final shot of the film confirming everything we thought of this guy and leaving with our middle finger up on the screen. Iíve seen films about terrible people before, but rarely one about boring, humdrum losers who are neither sad, funny or worth my time.

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originally posted: 03/22/03 08:27:00
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 SXSW Film Festival. For more in the 2003 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/05/04 Tony Franzen I thought Flowers was really well done - i don't know what this guy is talking about. 5 stars
8/26/03 Jaye Boring shit... a good movie to watch to learn what not to do. 1 stars
8/02/03 Aurelia awesome movie!! piper rocks!!! 5 stars
7/20/03 Joe Piper Perabo was good, but I wished Bill stayed with her in the ending. 4 stars
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