I watch a lot of films and TV shows. Most of the time it's just noise; I'll watch it, gain a couple hours of satisfaction from watching it, then completely forget about it. I move on. It simply didn't make any impression on me.
But sometimes, you come across a program or film that just moves you so entirely. It captures you and holds you, embracing you long after the credits have rolled. It's a work that you'll carry with you throughout your life. Flowers is one of those programs for me.
I was originally drawn to Flowers because I love Olivia Colman (obvious, who doesn't?). But what I wasn't expecting was to be caught up in a whirlwind of emotions and creativity.
Maurice (Julian Barratt), the author of the popular children book series Mr. Grubbs, is having a bad day. His dark day turns even worse when his wife, Deborah (Olivia Colman), decides to throw a part of their anniversary. Invited to the party is the couple's twin children-- Donald, a frustrated inventor, and Amy, an experimental musician--, Maurice's dotty mother Hattie, Abigail and George from down the street, and Barbara and her son. A series of unfortunate events follows leaving this already deteriorating family in even more disarray.
What caught me off guard and captured my heart the most about Flowers was its complete originality. From the story to the characters and even down to the narration, Flowers completely memorized from the minute it opened to the second it closed. Will Sharpe created a piece of art that beautifully captures the inner mind of the struggling artist.
The dysfunctional Flower family has an almost Chekhovian style to them. Resembling the chaotic family from The Seagull, each character is wrapped up in their own inner struggles of love, hate, happiness, sadness, loneliness, togetherness. Sharpe created such full-bodied, raw, and truthful characters that it's hard to operate yourself from them. The members of the Flower family are so dynamic and dimensional, you are able to identify with each one, finding yourself or someone you know in each character.
Julian Barratt gives an absolutely stunning performance as Maurice. His subtle, reflective performance captures the utter loneliness and sadness Maurice is suffering from. Olivia Colman also shines (like always) as Maurice's neglected wife. She beautifully depicts what it's like to be on the receiving end of an artist's persistent struggle with reality. She wonderfully captures the strength and courage one must have to hold a family together when it's literally crumbling to pieces. The rest of the cast, including Shape as the Flower's Japanese housekeeper, brilliantly bring Shape's character to life with flawless readings of his hilarious and bizarre dialogue.
Shape's dark comedy beautifully captures the struggle of living with a mental illness. It's an ode to the people who suffer from it, but also to the people who have to live with someone who is struggling. Sharpe wrote a beautiful story about acceptance and endurance and love. Yet he lightens this dark, heavy material with excellent, and brilliant, comedy. The serious subject matter is countered with exquisitely timed comedic moments and quick dialogue.
Shape's direction of the piece brings an even fuller life to the Flower's chaotic story. Each episode is perfectly paced and brilliantly shot. The editing continues to express Shape's quirky and creative style, leaving the audience completely engulfed in the story's original style. Even the set design of the Flower's home perfectly captured the eccentric, cluttered, deteriorated relationship of the Flower family, like Maurice's detached studio symbolizing his detachment from his family. Everything in this series, down to the music and title cards, was carefully and purposefully planned, creating a flavorful and engrossing atmosphere.
Flowers is one of the most beautiful, thoughtful, and creative programs I have seen in a long time. I was moved to tears by its truthfulness and stunning depiction of what it's like living with depression and mental illness. This program, and its message, will remain with me for a long time.
Click the images below to read each article
Film East Chats Podcast on BBC Radio Norfolk
This is a small section of episodes from the Film East podcast. Click here to listen to all episodes.