Different Flowers – A “Made in Kansas City” Film!

Two sisters take a soul searching road trip to discover who they are.

Filmed entirely in Kansas City, Different Flowers is comedy/drama that celebrates the wild times of being in your late twenties, and deciding which road to take. Millie (Emma Bell) is on the edge of age 30. She makes a somewhat unexplained decision to abandon her wedding, leaving her husband to be Charlie (Sterling Knight) standing at the altar. Her younger sister Emma (Hope Lauren) helps her escape in a red jeep to their grandmother’s house in the farmland of Missouri.  Almost completely isolated, the two sisters bond and argue simultaneously.

Emma is on an escape as well from her own erratic decisions, which includes a humiliating DUI arrest. She is instantly attracted to a gas station attendant named Blake (Rob Mayes) while on the road. Meanwhile, Grandma Mildred (Shelley Long) comes back home and has some sage  advice for the sisters. She also makes it very clear that she is glad to let them figure out their problems at this farmhouse, but she is not getting involved.  Emma still has to weather the storm of her runaway bride choice, and seems to be avoiding it at every turn.

When Shelley Long is is on screen, she is sassy and spunky, like many of the best grandmothers are.  However, her role doesn’t seem to be much more than an interesting cameo.  The two sisters, portrayed by Emma Bell and Hope Lauren are fun to watch as well, and are convincing with each layer of charming personality that the script allows them to display. There is an honesty to the emotions of the sisters.  It is dampened a bit by some repeated attempts to get us to root for them. This is where I had the most issue with the film.

Every character seemed to attempt to convince the audience to like them more times than necessary.  It would have been far more interesting for the sisters to have a real moment of tension.  But the most tension filled scene resulted in little more than a shoving match and some name calling.  I am confident that these actors could have pulled off more, if only the script allowed them to be less likeable, and more involved with the consequences of their actions.  It was almost as if the filmmaker was playing it safe.  Maybe too safe.

For example, there was a diner scene in which the two girls are about to have breakfast.  Emma advises Millie to hide her engagement ring, after some interesting and quirky dialogue.  It seemed like a good place to end the scene.  However, the scene drops that coda, and continues on for several minutes, with some more moments of comedy.  This is a nitpick, to be fair, but I found myself a bit uninterested as the scene continued for what seemed to be an editing mistake.  It made the ninety-nine minute run time feel more like two hours.  Which is not a bad thing, but make those minutes count.  It seems like the entire film was built around these two attractive and likeable sisters.  However, they run out of things to do, and it starts to wear on the audience in the last third of the film.

Putting those imperfections aside, it must be noted that the film looks and sounds great. Director Morgan Dameron really knows her stuff, and it is no secret that she was a part of Bad Robot and worked on Star Wars:  The Force Awakens.  In fact, her IMDB link shows why she knows the film game, as she has worked on several large budget productions. Her feature film is an independent effort, and appears to have no studio interference at all.  The director recalls her adolescence in Kansas City, Missouri, and it is clear that the sisters are based on her in some respects.  Therefore, it can be argued that this is an intensely personal film for her. Which could be why some of the meanings and deeper subtexts escape me.

I saw the film with a largely female audience, and it seemed to please their sensibilities and humor throughout.  All screenings of the film were sold out, or at least very close to selling out. This indicates to me that the film is hitting certain audiences in all the right ways.  The film is also picking up some awards, so there may be more to it than I saw on my first viewing.  I think its a charming film and look forward to Dameron’s next film.  This was her first feature films directing, and the independent roots show well here.  She’s lived with some of these characters, perhaps.  If not on the page, then certainly in her younger days.  I look forward to seeing her next film, which might take a few more chances than this film did.

Jason Turner

Jason Turner is a creative auteur from Kansas City. He is an actor, director, writer, filmmaker, producer, and published comic book author.

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