Jose Mari Goenaga and Jon Garano’s Flowers is a haunting example of the power we allow physical objects to hold over us. The film – set over multiple years – follows three women whose lives are significantly changed by the symbolic power of objects.
A somewhat bizarre concept on paper, Flowers succeeds on screen due to its exceptional thriller-like pacing, brooding cinematography and razor-sharp lead performances.
A sense of mystery is created immediately. We are greeted by misty roads, ominous skies and dark empty houses, accompanied by an eerie soundtrack of foreboding strings more suited to a Scandinavian psychological thriller than a Spanish film about plant-life. However a psychological thriller is almost exactly what Flowers is.
We are quickly introduced to Ane (Nagore Aranburu), a middle-aged woman prematurely going through menopause. Ane lives in a drab apartment with an uncaring husband and an unremarkable job at a construction site. Javi Agirre Erauso’s cinematography is hopelessly pale and subdued, wonderfully emphasising Ane’s unfulfilling situation.
Then, one day, a bouquet of flowers arrives. It is addressed to Ane but there is no sender information. Mystery flowers begin to arrive week after week and Ane feels younger; loved, but at the same time, scared. Throughout the film Erauso’s flower scenes are nothing short of phenomenal. Aggressive montages, and extreme close-ups of trembling, dew-soaked petals make the flowers seem as if they are intelligent, alien life-forms, capable of thinking, and moving on their own.
Then, one day the flowers stop arriving. At the same time, Ane’s nondescript co-worker, Benat (Josean Bengoetxea) dies in a car crash. It is at this point that the plot shifts entirely to the lives of Loudres (Itziar Ituno) and Terre (Itziar Aizpuru), Benat’s wife and mother. A sickening sense of foreboding is created through the sudden shift, and builds as the film yo-yos back and forth between the lives of Loudres, Ane and Terre.
Ane questions why Benat sent her flowers, and returns the favour by placing a bouquet near the crash-scene every week. Loudres becomes obsessed, wondering what connection Ane and Benat shared. Terre wonders why Loudres is so distant. The three women’s lives are changed not by Benat’s physical death, but by flowers – a symbolic object – instead.
Flowers explores the profound effect physical objects can have on or lives, but also the disconnect that can come from lack of communication, generational gaps and circumstance. Brilliantly acted and shot, Flowers is a unique and worthwhile watch for anyone who enjoys drama and isn’t adverse to a mind-game or two.
Reviewed by Samuel Smith
Rating out of 10: 7.5