Woodrow and Aiden like to play at violence. They are best friends, and their world consists of getting stoned, talking about the Apocalypse, and creating the flame throwers and weapons that will give them the upper hand once global destruction begins. It's like they're living in a video game.
This is the world of Bellflower, a bizarre and violent love story that looks at the lives of people whose lives you really don't want to look at too closely. Trust us.
Woodrow (Evan Glodell, who also wrote and directed) and Aiden (Tyler Dawson) are adults, only not really. They have come to California with some frontier-spirit ideas about a more interesting life, they don't have jobs, and their conversation seems not to have advanced since they were boys. What they talk about and how they talk about it -- sex, work, the future, Mad Max -- is bizarrely childish. The movie is divided into little chapters, and the first, in which Woodrow meets Milly (Jessie Wiseman) is called Pursuit of Happiness.
Milly is blond and beautiful and up for all the games that Woodrow and Aiden can concoct. She meets Woodrow when she beats him in a bar game, and the next thing you know, they're driving together to Texas. Woodrow's car has a built-in whisky tap, because that's the kind of insane do-it-yourself project at which he and Aiden excel.
Amidst the endless promise of violence that lurks at the edges of even the happiest scenes in Bellflower, Woodrow and Milly decide to become lovers. He asks her to be his girlfriend, but she's not sure, "Because things will go bad. That's what always happens." Indeed it does. By the time Woodrow and Aiden are testing their new flame-thrower, you can expect to feel a nauseating dread, in that apocalyptic kind of way. Later, when Glodell arranges things to add a head injury to everything else Woodrow has going on, it's almost gilding the lily. Kaboom.
Bellflower is a strange and terrifying movie about men, muscle and the end of a love affair. The violence plays like heartbreak and emotion turned into actual events, and it's disturbing to watch. But you can't look away.
The actual filmmaking involves the same sort of creative tinkering featured in the story -- Glodell owns and operates the movie's muscle car in real life, and he just happened to have built the cameras used to shoot this wild-eyed drama. Bellflower was a huge hit at Sundance this year, but it's a crazy picture (we believe that's the correct technical term) and it does appear to be the kind of movie people either love or hate. Either way, it gets under your skin.