Movie Review: “Flutter” Deserves A Much Better Script

flutter

Review by James McDonald

With her husband away indefinitely, a young mother struggles to nurture her son in the face of poverty, isolation and incarceration. FLUTTER explores the truest love on earth-the love of a mother and child.

I love independent filmmakers and the movies they construct. They dare to create stories and characters that most of the major studios would be afraid to touch with a ten-foot pole. As an independent filmmaker myself, I know what it’s like to produce a film. From writing the script to casting all the parts and then location scouting and the filming itself but then you have the editing and music and titles and for something that seems pretty straightforward, at least on paper, it’s a never-ending quest until you finally complete your project and sometimes, especially when you’re an independent, that can take years.

“Flutter” had its world premiere at the Dallas International Film Festival, which is still on right now thru Sunday, April 13th, when it all wraps up. The movie had a lot of buzz surrounding it because it was shot here in Texas and employed local talent. The big draw however, was the participation by Texas’s own Glenn Morshower, an actor whose face is just as memorable as his name. You take one look at him and you know exactly who he is. He’s “that guy”, you know, the guy you see in all those TV shows and movies. His list of movie credits is extensive, ranging from “Under Siege”, “Moneyball”, “X-Men: First Class” and the “Transformers” trilogy. His TV credits are even more comprehensive: “Law & Order”, “Friday Night Lights”, “C.S.I.” and the show he was most recognized for, “24”, where he played the part of Agent Aaron Pierce.

In “Flutter”, we follow JoLynn (Lindsay Pulsipher), the mother of nine year-old Johnathan (Johnathan Huth Jr.) who suffers with severe glaucoma. JoLynn’s husband David (Jesse Plemons) walked out on them a few months prior because he says it was always his dream to tour the country, playing his music. David’s parents Mark (Glenn Morshower) and Linda (Reis Myers McCormick) live just down the road from JoLynn and Johnathan so they get to see each other almost every day. Because JoLynn can’t afford to pay for proper medicine for her son’s advanced glaucoma, she has to grow marijuana in one of her backrooms and then mix it in with brownies so Johnathan will eat them to help alleviate the higher-than-normal pressure within his eyes. The story follows her everyday life as she struggles with no electricity or water, fending off CPS and worrying about her son’s future.

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The issue I had with “Flutter” was the fact that while JoLynn does indeed love her son and this is emphasized repeatedly throughout the movie, she does absolutely nothing to better her situation. She doesn’t work and the movie doesn’t explain where she gets her money from so one has to assume that she is receiving unemployment assistance. She hopes that one day soon, David will either come back home or send her some money and in one scene, she tells a friend that she’s a high school dropout and this is the film’s reason as to why she doesn’t work. Many people have dropped out of high school and have gone on to have rewarding and fulfilling careers in their chosen profession. And David leaving his family so he could tour the country, playing in empty bars and lounges so that he could follow his dream? This is not the actions of a man, a real man would take his family with him or try to find an alternative way to pursue his ambitions while taking care of them.

The film wants you to empathize with JoLynn and her given situation but it’s virtually impossible to do so when all she does is complain and find excuses for not working, instead of trying to better her and her son’s lives. We get some character exposition with David as he writes her a letter and tells her that he misses her and Johnathan and that he might one day come back home but hopes she will understand that he’s following his dream. They could have shot an entirely separate movie all about David but it wouldn’t change the fact that he is a coward who abandoned his family. The only sympathetic character in the whole movie, was Mark, David’s father, played by Glenn Morshower. He is always there for JoLynn and Johnathan and does everything he can for them but his overbearing wife makes it almost impossible for him to do more for them. She is more concerned about her fine china, ornaments and trinkets than her own family.

Mark is a good man who loves his family but he is often the voice of reason, especially when it comes to JoLynn. He tells her that his son abandoning them was wrong and not how he was rared but that it’s up to her to get up off her ass and make things happen, instead of just waiting around, hoping that opportunity will knock on her door. The movie is filled with good performances and benefits from some good-looking cinematography but the story is such a downer, brimming with misfortune and self-absorbed people, that you find yourself rooting for Johnathan’s pet pig Wee Wee instead of the human characters.

“Flutter” is playing at the Dallas International Film Festival

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James McDonald
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