Chloë Sevigny stars in the surrealistic short All Flowers In Time (2010)
The review for All Flowers In Time may be the hardest one I ever write. A 14-minute short, the film unexpectedly played before my Flatpack screening of Rubber (Dupieux, 2010) and generally blew the socks off of every audience member in the full house. It's a complex and sinister work, bursting with surreal images. At first I was confused - disoriented even. It took me a few minutes to get my head around it, and now I can't get it out of my head. I can't really discuss the plot because A) I don't think it has one, and B) I was so surprised by this unannounced nightmare of a film that I wasn't able to fully comprehend or absorb it. I checked out the official website this morning, and the synopsis there reads thusly:
"I am not from this place," declares a French cowboy. An old toothless man asks, "Do you know why you're here?" These shape-shifting personalities infect young children with an evil signal in the form of a Dutch TV show. The red-eyed girls and boys now believe they can become other people and monsters, much to their delight."
You'd be forgiven for not recognizing this as the new film by Tarnation (2003) director Jonathan Caouette, as it is mostly reminiscent of the works of David Lynch. Indeed, the cowboy character reminded me of the one in Mulholland Drive (2001), and an odd TV advert recalled the opening of that film, and also Inland Empire (2006) - which this shares terrifying shape-shifting objects and a DV hand-held style with. Even the music wouldn't seem out of place, which is at times a kind of incessant droning, the likes of which first made an appearance in Lynch's Eraserhead (1977). That TV advert is actually the most Lynchian element, also recalling the fade-in/outs of the sex scenes in Wild At Heart (1990), but bearing greater resemblance to the actual Gucci adverts Lynch shot a few years ago.
So, it's probably something of an homage to the oddball filmmaker, and the IMDB plot summation which reads 'A guided tour through the shattered remains of memory and identity' could also summarize half of Lynch's oeuvre. But All Flowers In Time is also very much its own film, especially in the sequence between a young boy and an older woman, played by Chloë Sevigny. With red-eyes they decide to play a game - the boy will peek out through his hands and the woman will pull the scariest face she can think of. A P.O.V. shot from the boys peephole perspective expertly builds tension, and the face Sevigny pulls (with the help of makeup artists and some CGI) is a truly terrifying one, looking more like the Predator than anything human. The audience I was with jumped back in their seats. Some looked away but I was captivated by the unique horror. It's a really peculiar moment, and provides the climax to a sense of relentless creepiness that streaks throughout the entire film, particularly sequences shot on Super 8 cameras, which have a ghost-like quality.
It's a jagged, thought-provoking piece of cinema, equal parts horror and drama, but also with a tinge of sci-fi conspiracy (When the anti red-eye-cameras came out, I was afraid that the government was trying to cover up something). It is, without doubt, one of the best films of the year so far. I've tried to add as much information and promotion to this mini-review as possible, so below you'll find links to the official website, the trailer on YouTube and a gallery of three images to browse. Look out for this one... it's quite a treat.