Directed by Matt Smukler from a screenplay by Jana Savage, Wildflower Tries to be a heartfelt dramedy and a coming-of-age story about a teenager who takes care of her disabled parents and struggles under the pressure of doing so while balancing her personal life. on the surface, wildflower succeeds, but digging deeper into its message reveals a more depressing and pretentious film. Despite a fantastic cast, wild flower Doesn’t live up to its potential, and uses its incompetent characters as vehicles to drive the main character’s story, which will leave a bitter taste in your mouth when all is said and done.
Wildflower Opens with a family gathering around a comatose teenager. Before long, Bea (Kiernan Shipka), short for Bambi, the aforementioned teenager, is recounting the story of how she got into such a predicament. Born to Derek (Dash Mihawk), who suffered a traumatic head injury at age 12 that caused neurodivergence, and Sharon (Samantha Hyde), who was born with intellectual delays, Bea grew up much faster than other children. While her extended family — her aunt (Alexandra Daddario) and two grandmothers (Jean Smart and Jackie Weaver) — tried to help care for her, Bea’s parents wanted to remain her primary caregivers. It ultimately saw Bea taking care of her parents while juggling high school and a relationship with Ethan (Charlie Plummer). A series of events lead him to a situation that puts him in a coma, styled as a mystery that must be solved.
If wild flower Always interested in exploring the lives and interiors of his disabled characters, it never bothers to delve deeper beyond the pain and stress they cause Bea. The film raises questions about parenting, a child’s rights and what a child can endure when parents don’t fulfill their duty to care for them, but it drops the ball when it comes to saying something meaningful. A big part of the issue is the film’s tone, which alternates between heartwarming and funny, mostly unearned and serious.
Wildflower Had it taken the time to treat its disabled characters with some empathy, it could have succeeded in being a good film. However, it treats Bear’s parents as if they are the problem and many of the film’s comedic scenes involve them to the point of discomfort. The film is meant to be inspirational, and its heart seems to be in the right place considering it’s influenced by Smukler’s own niece, but it fails on that front.
It’s easy to understand where this film is coming from, but Sharon and Derek’s direction needs to be more refined and thoughtful. Otherwise, it just feels like they were used for laughs, cheap sympathy, and to promote a strong character in his story. There are certainly genuine moments throughout the film, and the cast is great, but Smukler doesn’t use everything to the advantage of the story or its characters.
What’s more, the mystery surrounding Bear’s accident — led by a social worker played by Erica Alexander — doesn’t really add anything to the narrative, nor does it make for a more emotional throughline, especially when we find out how she ended up in a coma.
To be sure, there are directions wild flower Which are poignant and intriguing, but the film’s execution requires some fine-tuning. Somewhere between trying to be an inspirational comedy and a coming-of-age story, there’s a great film lurking beneath the surface, if only the film had dared to delve deeper by giving its disabled characters some real perspective.
Wildflower Now available to stream on Hulu. The film is 106 minutes long and is rated R for teenage drinking, language and a sexual reference.