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Wildflower | Film Threat

Apr 13, 2023

It all starts with an intriguing idea for a story. And when it has heart, you have a winning indie film. Such is the case with director Matt Smukler and writer Jana Savage’s feature film, Wildflower. When we first meet teenager Bea (Kiernan Shipka), she’s in a coma, surrounded by family. While she can’t communicate with the outside world, she narrates and talks directly with the audience. Her first question is, “Where are my parents?”
We then leap to the past, where we discover that Bea’s parents are both intellectually disabled. Sharon (Samantha Hyde) was born with her disability and raised by her parents, Peg (Jean Smart) and Earl (Brad Garrett). In a moment of weakness, her overly protective parents let Sharon give their gardener, Derek (Dash Mihok), a glass of lemonade. Derek is also “special” like Sharon after a physically traumatic childhood accident.
Derek and Sharon quickly fall in love and decide to get married. However, Derek’s mother, Loretta (Jacki Weaver), insists that Sharon be sterilized. Well, the insulted Peg refuses, and soon Bea is born. When Peg begins to smother the two parents, Derek decides to pack his family up and move to Las Vegas. The trio starts living in a van until Derek earns enough money for a proper home.

“…Bea as a child need[s] to step up and take more adult responsibilities.”
Wildflower then shifts to CPS agent Mary (Erika Alexander), who must investigate Bea’s coma. Here, the intricacies of Bea’s relationship with her parents unfold. Yes, there are the “special” moments where the lines are blurred between Bea as a child needing to step up and take more adult responsibilities. For example, Derek needs to teach Bea how to drive, at 10-years-old, in case there’s an emergency with Sharon. This leads to Bea’s first of many encounters with Mary.
As we move closer to the present, Bea is now a teenager who has the opportunity to attend a private school, but it is still objectively poor. She’s bullied for being different and having parents who are different. Though bright, Bea’s prospects for college look dim both financially and out of duty to her parents.
Then Bea meets Ethan (Charlie Plummer). He’s the new kid in school and is instantly smitten with her. He’s also a cancer survivor, which plays a huge role in the story, but not in the way you expect. Though the two are in love, you can see that their relationship is complicated.

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