Film Reviews

Forget figuring out what the title means and just revel in the performances in "Flower," but don't lose sight of the fact that "Flower" redefines the teen movie beyond anything John Hughes of "Breakfast Club" envisioned in the Eighties -- even beyond what Greta Gerwig framed in "Lady Bird."

"Flower" soars beyond summary, but any film that begins with oral sex between a teen and a cop is going to have some explaining to do. Okay, so Erica and her cohorts blackmail older men who want sex from them. Kala and Claudine spend their money on frills, but Erica is saving hers to bail her dad out of jail. The trio, well aware of gender fluidity, spends time in a bowling alley, ogling a "hot old man" in his 40s.

Erica, who wears a t-shirt with "Daddy" across her new bosom and draws penises in pencil in her notebook, is being raised -- word used advisedly -- by a boundaryless mother who's now seeing another man. Bob has a son, who's been in rehab for a year. Erica's mom tells her to be nice to Luke. But Luke is homely and tubby with anger issues. He is in no way ready for the funny, sexy, sorta-step-sister on offer.

Writers Alex McAulay and Matt Spice, turned this plot, with its surprises and humanity, sexiness, sadness, and silliness, into something worth watching for 90 minutes beyond the 5 minutes of oral sex at the opening in the credits. Max Winkler's direction keeps "Flower" dancing and feining like boxers in the ring.

The cast exploits the story so well. Tim Heidecker plays Bob with nuance and subtlety. Maya Eshet and Dylan Gelula serve well as Erica's other musketeers. Adam Scott is the hunky old man, and Joey Morgan is wonderful as weird Luke. Kathryn Hahn, one of the finest comedians in film today, gives the mother worth. But "Flower" belongs to Zoey Deutch as Erica: Deutch magnetizes and electrifies beyond expectation to great satisfaction. Just watch her!

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