Wildflowers

Acoming-of-age story about a young woman's struggle to understand her parents' radical past, "Wildflowers" is a scattered, misguided effort that, without the names involved, might not even have seen festival life. Sketched in a deliberately ambiguous, impressionistic style, Melissa Painter's debut pic is a bafflingly personal, largely inaccessible item.

Acoming-of-age story about a young woman’s struggle to understand her parents’ radical past, “Wildflowers” is a scattered, misguided effort that, without the names involved, might not even have seen festival life. Sketched in a deliberately ambiguous, impressionistic style, Melissa Painter’s debut pic is a bafflingly personal, largely inaccessible item.

Raised without a mom, Cally (Clea DuVall) lives with her dad on a houseboat. After stumbling across Sabine (Daryl Hannah), a skittish, wounded artist with a mysterious past and a penchant for gauzy fabrics, she becomes obsessed. As Sabine reveals herself to Cally, it appears their connection is deeper than Cally thought. It’s not the premise that’s frustrating, but rather Painter’s meandering script and self-consciously experimental technique: When Sabine describes the ’60s as a “fragmented” decade, Painter inserts painfully obvious jump-cuts that seem like bandages for underdeveloped scenes and characters. Ditto the abundance of water imagery, which adds nothing to the proceedings. Painter’s elliptical script defies logic: Cally hasn’t so much as introduced herself to the artist when they’re practically inseparable and she’s bedded Sabine’s ex-lover (Eric Roberts). The ending, which labors to explain their behavior, is too little, too late.

Wildflowers

Production: A Fried Film Group presentation of a Filmsmith production. Produced by Zachary Matz, Thomas Garvin, Timothy Bird. Executive producers, Christine Vachon , Daryl Hannah. Directed, written by Melissa Painter. Camera (CFI color), Paul Ryan; editor, Brent White; music, Sam Bisbee; production designer, Andrea Soeiro; costume designer, Chris Aysta. Reviewed at Santa Barbara Film Festival, March 4, 2000. Running time: 98 MIN.

With: With: Clea DuVall, Daryl Hannah, Tomas Arana, Eric Roberts.

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