When men tell a story about a spunky girl and a troubled boy, the results may not surprise you.

Max Winkler’s Flower is a film about a teenage girl that’s written, produced, and directed by men, but it almost manages to avoid feeling like a male fantasy about teenage girls — almost. Erica (Zoey Deutch) is a 17-year-old who is aware of the power granted by what she considers to be the otherwise impersonal act of fellatio, primarily to extort money out of men foolish enough to get head from a 17-year-old. (At no point is Erica ever called “Flower,” nor do flowers factor into the story, but the vogue for meaningless single-word titles is still in bloom.)

When her mother’s new boyfriend Bob (Tim Heidecker) moves in with his awkward, recently institutionalized son Luke (Joey Morgan), Erica finds a potential way to use her powers for good instead of evil by taking down a predatory teacher (Adam Scott) — if Luke can be trusted. That the primary creative team was all male shows in the way that Luke’s arc feels like ex post facto wish-fulfillment, but the production, costume design, set decoration, and cinematography are all by women, which makes the mise en scène feel a bit more authentic. And as parables about the pitfalls of sexual harassment claims go, it’s still better than the thematically similar but far blunter Submission.

Rated R. 
Opens Friday at the Embarcadero Center Cinema.


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