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Magnolia Flowers

average rating is 2 out of 5


William Hemingway


Posted on:

Mar 3, 2023

Film Reviews
Magnolia Flowers
Directed by:
Colin Charles Dale
Written by:
Colin Charles Dale
Emma Waters, Samuel M. Vita, Alexander Carstoiu

Caitlyn (Waters) is depressed. She's busy telling her therapist about how she feels and how she sometimes wishes that she wouldn't wake up in the morning. Rather strangely the therapist doesn't seem to know what's been going on with Caitlyn and what has led her to therapy (which must have been recommended as a referral after previous events), nor that Caitlyn has recently tried to kill herself.


Cut back a few months to late March and Caitlyn has been picked up by her brothers, Connell (Vita) and Adam (Carstoiu) who are driving her to their parents' house to house-sit whilst they head off on holiday to Europe. The boys are on suicide watch as even at this early stage Caitlyn isn't happy and they feel they need to keep an eye on her. What was supposed to be a long weekend inexplicably turns into weeks and weeks as over a month later, as though nothing has happened in the interim, Caitlyn suggests they have a party.


Suddenly, the party is in full swing and Caitlyn and Adam are waiting for Connell to show up with his mates. In the meantime, Adam gets into an altercation with an unwanted guest (unwanted for unexplained reasons) and heads off on his skateboard alone. At some point, Adam inexplicably falls off his skateboard onto the road and for unexplained reasons lays there unconscious. Just then, Connell arrives with his carload of buddies and drops his phone just as he approaches his brother in the road. Everyone watches as Adam gets run over and nobody knows what to do. And then things get really stupid.


Rather than call the police on what was for all intents and purposes a genuine accident, Connell runs away into the woods and his pals lift Adam's body into the boot of the car only to dump him somewhere inconspicuous later on. Now the focus shifts to Connell's pals, bringing into question just whose story this really is, and we watch on as the inevitable fallout becomes stupider and stupider.


Magnolia Flowers, which has absolutely zero in common with Paul Thomas Anderson's masterpiece Magnolia (1999), is a film that doesn't know what it's doing. The characterisation is bland and generic, the scripting is too, and the story and incidental scenarios make no sense at all. It's a slog to even get through the short one hour runtime as it's difficult to comprehend actual people making the deliriously dumb choices that drive this film, not forward, but towards its conclusion.


Thankfully writer/director/producer, Colin Charles Dale is a far better director than he is writer and he is supported convincingly by DoP Ben Grant, colourist Arianna Shining Star and composers, Jack Maitra and Sean Moran. The music and the visuals really carry the film as the ensemble of actors try their best with what they've been given and actually make a pretty decent stab at it.


Sadly nothing can lift Magnolia Flowers from its diabolically bad plotting and in the end the film shows itself to be a wasted opportunity. As a director and producer, Dale may actually have the chops to find himself a future but in order to do that he's going to need to leave the writing alone and give it to somebody else who actually knows what they're doing.

About the Film Critic
William Hemingway
William Hemingway
Indie Feature Film
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