Directed by Matt Smukler from a screenplay by Jana Savage, Wildflower makes an attempt to be a heartfelt dramedy and a coming-of-age story about an adolescent who cares for her disabled mother and father and struggles below the strain of doing that alongside balancing her private life. On the floor, Wildflower succeeds, however digging deeper into its message reveals a extra disheartening and disingenuous movie. Regardless of a implausible forged, Wildflower doesn’t reside as much as its potential, and makes use of its disabled characters as autos to drive the principle character’s story, which is able to go away a bitter style in your mouth in any case is alleged and carried out.
Wildflower opens with a household gathered round a comatose teenager. Earlier than lengthy, Bea (Kiernan Shipka), brief for Bambi, the aforementioned teen, is narrating the story of how she acquired into such a predicament. Born to Derek (Sprint Mihok), who suffered a traumatic head harm when he was 12 that brought about neurodivergence, and Sharon (Samantha Hyde), who was born with an mental delay, Bea grew up rather a lot sooner than different youngsters. Whereas her prolonged household — together with her aunt (Alexandra Daddario) and two grandmothers (Jean Sensible and Jacki Weaver) tried to assist take care of her, Bea’s mother and father wished to stay her major caretakers. That in the end noticed Bea caring for her mother and father whereas juggling highschool and a relationship with Ethan (Charlie Plummer). Plenty of occasions lead her to a scenario that places her in a coma, styled as a thriller that have to be solved.
If Wildflower was ever desirous about exploring its disabled characters’ lives and interiority, it doesn’t hassle to delve any deeper past the ache and stress they trigger Bea. The movie brings up questions on parenting, the rights of a kid, and what a baby would possibly endure when mother and father are less than the duty of caring for them, nevertheless it drops the ball in saying something significant. An enormous a part of the problem is the movie’s tone, which alternates between being heartfelt and humorous, a lot of which isn’t earned, and severe.
Had Wildflower taken the time to deal with its disabled characters with some compassion, then it might need succeeded in being a greater movie. Nevertheless, it treats Bea’s mother and father like they’re the issue and lots of the movie’s comedic scenes contain them to the purpose of discomfort. The movie is supposed to be inspiring, and its coronary heart looks like it’s in the precise place contemplating that it’s influenced by Smukler’s personal niece, nevertheless it falters on that entrance.
It’s simple to grasp the place this movie is coming from, however the method wanted to be extra refined and considerate in its dealing with of Sharon and Derek. In any other case, it simply makes it look like they had been used for laughs, low-cost sympathy, and to raise an able-bodied character in her story. There are undoubtedly real moments all through the movie, and the forged is implausible, however Smukler doesn’t make the most of all the pieces to the benefit of the story or its characters. What’s extra, the thriller surrounding Bea’s accident — which is spearheaded by a social employee performed by Erika Alexander — doesn’t actually add something to the narrative, nor does it make for a extra emotional throughline, particularly once we notice how she got here to be within the coma to start with.
To make certain, there are facets of Wildflower which might be touching and intriguing, however the movie’s execution wanted some fine-tuning. Someplace between its makes an attempt at being an inspirational comedy and a coming-of-age story, there’s a terrific film hiding beneath the floor, if solely the movie had dared to go deeper by giving its disabled characters some real perspective.
Wildflower is now accessible to stream on Hulu. The movie is 106 minutes lengthy and is rated R for teen ingesting, language, and a sexual reference.