“Bellflower” takes its name from a somewhere-in-the-nowhere-of-L.A. street, where Woodrow (writer-director-editor-camera maker Evan Glodell) and Aiden (Tyler Dawson) crash-landed after they moved to California from the heartland, drawn as young men are to the promises and lies of the American frontier. Having made it to the end of the continent, they’re now looking forward to the end of days: Their biggest conversational topic is how it would be awesome to have a big muscle car around just for the occasion of the world ending, which would immediately render it a social advantage. As Aiden says in one of the film’s first lines, “OK, imagine the Apocalypse just started …” This, for Aiden, is looking to the future.
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But while Aiden works diligently on their post-Armageddon dream car going from being an idle idea to idling in the driveway — a ’72 Buick Skylark dubbed Medusa — Woodrow meets and falls in love with Milly (Jessie Wiseman). Milly likes Woodrow — he’s gentle and genteel and useless in a fight, and he and Aiden are hearty, handy and hirsute in their friendship — but she’s worried about becoming his “girlfriend.” “I’ll hurt you and I won’t be able to help it.” He suggests he’ll be fine. He won’t be.
Like “Fight Club,” “Bellflower” is about the unspoken challenge facing American young men trying to make it into manhood — who do you have to explain to you how to be a man when your only models are the dads in the bad marriages who don’t stay and the actors in the bad movies that don’t stop? It is also a vigorous opening argument about the unspoken challenge facing American indie film, an increasingly tangled thicket of clichés where, shot on digital video, struggling novelists overtalk their way to a happy ending with Zooey Deschanel. It’s warm and beautiful and terrible and scary, full of heart and blood and truly unique.