The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

Flourish: You have to tell it in a certain way…

Written by: Phoebe Raven, CC2K Staff Writer

Image When was the last time you went into a movie completely ignorant of its content when it started, yet halfway through you thought “This may be the best movie I have ever seen”?

Flourish was like that for me. And while the thought was an exaggeration (but as exaggerations come and go it was one of the minor ones), Flourish sure was one of the best movies I have seen of late and among the most entertaining. (Relish in how soothing it is to hear me say this, when I have a habit of smashing such pop-culture gems as on Children of Men, Quentin Tarantino, Uma Thurman, the Spiderman-Franchise… need I go on?)



I am extremely hesitant to continue with a plot summary of Flourish right now for several reasons.

One being that I am not entirely sure I could provide one even if I tried. The story isn’t all that intricate and complex, but so many little details are vital, and so many seeming coincidences have consequences, that to do a summary would take more time than any of us have.

Another reason is that the movie is unbelievably fun and riveting when you have no clue what’s going on, how it’s going to end, or what’s happening in between (although I have to admit I haven’t re-watched it, so I can’t judge how much fun it is with knowledge of the plot. I believe this movie to be capable of unfolding another kind of magic even the second time around).

And yet another reason for me not telling the story is to give you all even more incentive to go rent Flourish so you can corroborate or contradict my experiences with it.

I fear I might have to give away some of the story in a bit, but first let me relate how I came across this movie in the first place.

I am an avid fan of TV’s House MD (recently declared the world’s most-watched television show), and a part of my fan-dom always involves me looking up the actors on IMDB. I don’t like to judge whether or not an actor/actress is good before I have seen some of their work. In order to see if they really act or just play themselves on screen. (Some actors have exactly one gig they are really good at, one type of character they can play and that’s it. Like Adam Sandler, Jennifer Aniston, and cohorts and to some degree even Jack Nicholson or Jim Carrey. Does this sound like I am slamming Jack Nicholson? I am not. Just saying he is being typecast of late.)

On the filmography of both Jennifer Morrison and Jesse Spencer I found an indie flick called Flourish. “What a perfect deal”, I said to myself. Two of the actors I love off that show in one movie! So without inquiring further what this movie entailed I got my hands on it and popped it into my DVD player ASAP.

And while Jesse Spencer’s attempt at an American accent is a wee bit off, it doesn’t really matter, his screen time is about five minutes and it is really Jennifer Morrison who blows you out of the water.

She has a history of playing the good girl so morally right and overall nice it can be enraging. Case in point: Dr. Allison Cameron. Well, Jennifer is anything but nice in this movie. She is hilarious, schizophrenic and utterly relatable yet. Her character Gabrielle is…not quite right in the head, to put it bluntly. More exactly she has Korsakoff’s syndrome, but still I connected to her character more than to a lot of characters I have seen before. (Maybe that just says something about me.)

The movie’s tagline is: “Keep it realistical.” It is word creations like this that tip you off to Gabrielle’s insanity. (If you don’t gather it instantly from the somber-colored scenes in which she sits at a table opposite a camera, fixing her glasses and is asked to tell her story.) Among her linguistic endeavors are phrases like: “See…logicalistically I can tell from your eyes that you’re lying” or “There’s no need to overreactivate.” But the best line, and I believe the one that will make you watch this movie, is one I almost didn’t catch, it is delivered so fast and spot on:

“Can’t you wait till they’re back? I’m sure your parents would enjoy seeing you run away from home much more than I would.”

Okay, I suppose at this point it is inevitable to share some plot to circumvent losing all my readers. Gabrielle fancies herself a lector, translator and tutor and is hired to babysit a 16-year-old teenager overnight to help her with her English essay while her parents attend a funeral out of town. Yes, that family is dysfunctional all by itself already. The only reason Gabrielle takes this job is because the mother offers her $1000 for it and because the car Gabrielle shares with her roommate got stolen by Gabrielle’s own fault, and so now they have to buy a new one, meaning she really needs the money. Naturally this babysitting job has to turn out a disaster. And what a fun one.

There have been many movies over time trying to have multiple plot lines running at once and attempting to let them all come together through unexpected twists in the end (Crash anyone?) or movies where all of the sudden a minor detail from before becomes vital. Some of these movies have succeeded, others have failed. When creating a movie of this kind there are many traps and pitfalls to be avoided in the form of clichés, overused twists, obvious camera work (i.e. when the lighter is shown for five seconds for no apparent reason you already KNOW it’s gonna be important later), but Flourish manages to steer clear of many if not, dare I say it, all of them. Some may accuse this film of being pointless and not building up to anything, but that is not true. (I checked out the message boards on IMDB and tons of people hated this movie. All teenagers who didn’t get the point, I believe.) The point eventually is revealed at the very end and we see why we were sent on the ride. Loose ends aren’t exactly tied up, but simply because they were never meant to make a whole lot of sense in the first place. A woman with a mental condition is telling us a story, did we really believe it would make perfect sense in the end? But while many films would use insanity of a person as a cop-out to explain any slips in continuity or gaps in logic, Flourish decidedly avoids this. It never claimed to tell a coherent story. It is built on the fact that we KNOW Gabrielle is confused (to say the least) and yet tries to tell the story well. She explicitly says: “You have to tell it in a certain way, so that it sounds right… so it sounds realistical.” Keeping that in mind you can actually be amazed at how coherent her story is.

And if all of these content teasers aren’t enticement enough to watch this film, then let me get back to my praise of Jennifer Morrison’s work.

Writer, director and producer Kevin Palys is a high school friend of Jennifer’s, which is why she signed on to the project. And she turns out to be the perfect asset for a story so intricate it needed talent to be brought alive. This is not only accomplished by Jennifer, there is a great ensemble cast, but from the bunch, she sticks out. (Palys researched for two years before actually writing the script, and it paid off.) While the argument has been made on this site that it’s always easier to play someone mentally unstable than Joe Average, Jennifer Morrison has an altogether refreshing take on it. It helps that her character Gabrielle isn’t an outright loony, but her problem only flares up now and then. Heck, if you didn’t know better Gabrielle might just be extremely quirky and weird. The brilliance of Jennifer Morrison lies in her body language. Particularly impressive are the inter-cut scenes of her talking to what we assume to be a doctor and telling her story. The way she adjusts her glasses (which she never wears in the rest of the film) and tries to pose right for the camera, changing her facial expression from earnest to kind to stern to sexy is pure genius. Her mimics in those scenes are endearing, confusing, funny and illustrative of what goes on in Gabrielle’s head.

Image Not to mention Jennifer Morrison is a total hottie, but manages to completely downplay this in the entire film. Because it simply wouldn’t serve the role. (Sidenote: I think I may have a celebrity crush on Jennifer. I also have a celebrity crush on Jesse Spencer. Those two were once engaged in real life. I cannot for the life of me decide who to be jealous of for having been allowed to make out with whom. )

As if all of this wasn’t enough, among all these twists and turns of plot and stellar acting we also get a ton of humor and quotable one-liners. And which geek doesn’t like those? Yes, this movie is genuinely funny is what I am saying. Clever word jokes plus awesome weirdness between characters resulted in several diaphragm-tickling-attacks over here on my end.

Enough said, praised, lauded and drooled over. Go watch this movie! Now! I swear you’ll be saying to your friends “You’re getting my karate gi wet!” and complain to your wife “This towel is weird!” and when your very annoying co-worker returns from lunch you will say “Don’t be done. Have fun, go back.“

I need to go now, Gabrielle just told me I have a temperature of at least three or four hundred and I am wondering how that makes me and Jesus feel…