You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Flowers’

An elegantly lensed, heartwarming story of three women unexpectedly brought together by floral bouquets.

Nagore Aranburu, Itziar Ituno, Itziar Aizpuru, Josean Bengoetxea, Egoitz Lasa, Ane Gabarain, Jose Ramon Soroiz, Jox Berasategi.

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3900206/reference

If Joe Mankiewicz were alive, one could imagine him wanting to remake “Flowers,” with its poignantly old-fashioned premise that also comments on contempo society. Sophomore directors Jon Garano and Jose Mari Goenaga, along with co-scripter Aitor Arregi, could use a little of the Mankiewicz touch in deepening characterization through modulation, but their story of three women unexpectedly brought together by floral bouquets is elegantly lensed and warm-hearted to the core, without getting sappy. A rare Basque-lingo production that could see a European release if marketed right, “Flowers” should also become a staple in Iberian showcases.

A trip to the doctor tells Ane (Nagore Aranburu) that she’s more or less fine, apart from early-onset menopause. For this lonely, childless woman, stuck in a less-than-happy marriage to Ander (Egoitz Lasa), the news is just one more finished chapter in her life. Then a bouquet of flowers arrives with no note  who are they from? The question becomes more acute as new arrangements arrive every week. Ane truly doesn’t have a clue who’s sending them, but her whole outlook changes: She now observes the world with curiosity, casting expectant glances at people in public and wondering, “Could it be him?”

Audiences know the sender is Benat (Josean Bengoetxea), a crane operator employed by the construction company where Ane is secretary. The sweet-natured, unassuming man is married to Lourdes (Itziar Ituno), a toll-booth worker with a son from a previous marriage and a headache in the form of Benat’s meddling mother, Tere (Itziar Aizpuru). On a rainy night, while heading to pick up his wife, Benat’s car crashes and he’s killed.

As unexpectedly as Ane’s flowers appeared, now they’re gone. Meanwhile, Lourdes’ stymied sense of mourning leads her to sweep away all traces of her husband’s presence, and though a suddenly sensitized Tere tries to finally connect with her daughter-in-law, her attempts are rejected. By chance, Ane discovers the identity of her late admirer, and she starts placing flowers of her own once a week at the crash site. Three years later, Benat’s widow and mother encounter the mystery woman with this unexplained floral devotion, with predictably divergent responses.

Like the semi-transparent film around a bouquet,

Garano and Goenaga (“In 80 Days”) wrap “Flowers” in a layer of discreet melancholy. All three women are unfulfilled, and their unrealized dreams of what life would be like at their age act as a constant irritant. For Bena,t too, marriage isn’t what he anticipated, yet his sweetly romantic though cowardly secret-admirer act is itself a sign of his inability to express his feelings openly. This general lack of communication is reflected not only in the minimal dialogue but also in the way the widescreen lensing isolates the figures, emphasizing their distance from one another.

Lourdes’ bitterness lacks fuller motivation, and her character requires more depth, especially as there’s little sign her marriage was ever a love match. A little more of Benat’s psychology would also help (the menfolk are all on the sketchy side), and Tere’s sudden change of heart regarding her daughter-in-law feels too abrupt. But these are minor quibbles about what is, in essence, an affecting story of loss and the ways people cope. The three lead actresses, beautifully cast, form just enough of a contrast to each other to create extratextual tension while maintaining a high degree of sympathy.

Javi Agirre Erauso’s spare visuals are complemented by the production design’s earth tones, adding to a sense of interiority, the kind associated with rainy days that go on for weeks. That’s why Ane’s renewed openness to life once she starts receiving the flowers acts as such a pick-me-up.

Film Review: 'Flowers'

Reviewed at San Sebastian Film Festival (competing), Sept. 22, 2014. (Also in London Film Festival  Journey; Tokyo Film Festival  World Focus.) Running time: 99 MIN. (Original title: “Loreak”)  

Production: (Spain) A Contracorriente Films release of an Irusoin, Moriarty Produkzioak production, with the participation of ETB, Euskaltel, TVE. (International sales: Film Factory Entertainment, Barcelona.) Produced by Xabier Berzosa, Inaki Gomez, Inigo Obeso.

Crew: Directed by Jon Garano, Jose Mari Goenaga. Screenplay, Goenaga, Aitor Arregi, Garano. Camera (color, HD, widescreen), Javi Agirre Erauso; editor, Raul Lopez; music, Pascal Gaigne; production designer, Mikel Serrano; costume designer, Saioa Lara; sound (5.1), Inaki Diez; assistant director, Telmo Esnal; casting, Loinaz Jauregi.

With: Nagore Aranburu, Itziar Ituno, Itziar Aizpuru, Josean Bengoetxea, Egoitz Lasa, Ane Gabarain, Jose Ramon Soroiz, Jox Berasategi.

More Film

  • Jim Jarmusch in 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    Film Review: 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    “Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic. It’s a no-fuss, 80-minute-long portrait of Rick Kelly, who builds and sells custom guitars out of a modest storefront on Carmine Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the film touches on obsessions that have been popping up, like fragrant weeds, in [...]

  • Missing Link Laika Studios

    ‘Missing Link’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV ad measurement and attribution company iSpot.tv, Annapurna Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Missing Link.” Ads placed for the animated film had an estimated media value of $5.91 million through Sunday for [...]

  • Little Woods

    Film Review: 'Little Woods'

    So much of the recent political debate has focused on the United States’ southern border, and on the threat of illegal drugs and criminals filtering up through Mexico. But what of the north, where Americans traffic opiates and prescription pills from Canada across a border that runs nearly three times as long? “Little Woods” opens [...]

  • Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping

    Beyonce's Netflix Deal Worth a Whopping $60 Million (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix has become a destination for television visionaries like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy, with deals worth $100 million and $250 million, respectively, and top comedians like Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle ($40 million and $60 million, respectively). The streaming giant, which just announced it’s added nearly 10 million subscribers in Q1, is honing in [...]

  • Roman Polanski extradition

    Academy Responds to Roman Polanski: 'Procedures Were Fair and Reasonable'

    UPDATE: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has responded to a lawsuit from director Roman Polanski that claimed he was unfairly expelled from the organization behind the Oscars. “The procedures taken to expel Mr. Polanski were fair and reasonable. The Academy stands behind its decision as appropriate,” a spokesperson said. The Academy’s statement [...]

  • Lorraine Warren dead

    Lorraine Warren, Paranormal Investigator Who Inspired 'The Conjuring,' Dies at 92

    Lorraine Warren, paranormal investigator and demonologist whose life inspired franchises like “The Conjuring” and “The Amityville Horror,” has died. She was 92. Warren’s son-in-law Tony Spera confirmed the news. Spera said on Facebook, “She died peacefully in her sleep at home.” He continued, “She was a remarkable, loving, compassionate and giving soul. To quote Will [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content