A breakthrough performance by a talented young actress is always a sight to behold. Last year at the Tribeca Film Festival, I saw Zoey Deutch own the screen in Flower. This independent picture has stayed with me for almost 12 full months, mainly due to Deutch’s captivating turn. She is riveting, to the point where I’m just as eager to fete her performance today as I was in the moments after that Tribeca screening ended last April. That’s the mark of a talented actress, and Deutch is certainly one. In fact, within the next few years, I’m sure I’ll be writing about her as an A-lister and potentially even an award winner.
The movie is an indie black comedy/coming of age story. Erica (Deutch) is a troublemaking teen who, when we first meet her, is blackmailing a small-town cop after performing a sexual act on him. Her friends film it, she’s underage, and soon some cash is in her hand. This appears to be a common occurrence for the trio, as Erica’s home life is less than stellar. Mother Laurie (Kathryn Hahn) is more of a friend than an authority figure, while Laurie’s live in pseudo stepfather Bob (Tim Heidecker) is a loser. When Bob brings home his overweight and mentally unstable son Luke (Joey Morgan), Erica at least has a playmate. They don’t immediately bond, though both of their relationships with older man Will (Adam Scott) bring them together. To say more will be to spoil the surprises, but this goes to some pretty unique places. Max Winkler directs and co-writes with Alex McAulay and Matt Spicer, while the rest of the cast includes Romy Byrne, Eric Edelstein, Maya Eshet, Dylan Gelula, Joel Hebner, and more. Cinematography is by Carolina Costa. Everyone here does their job, with Winkler especially showcasing some tremendous filmmaking chops, but Deutch is the true star here.
Deutch anchors the film with a lead performance that I really hope the Academy remembers at the end of the year. It’s a damaged, funny, and layered performance that deserves acclaim. The tonal shifts that Winkler trusts her with are complex and pulled off perfectly. In the hands of a lesser actress, this might have been too jarring. Deutch makes sure that’s never the case, however, and the movie is all the better for it. The film is one of the year’s best, with Deutch the best performance to hit so far. She really is just that good in this wonderful little flick.
Her career has been building slowly over the last few years. Flower is a starring role for Deutch (her only other one being Before I Fall) after plum supporting gigs in movies like Dirty Grandpa, Everybody Wants Some, Rebel in the Rye, Why Him?, and Vampire Academy. With a charm and screen presence matched by few, she makes everything she’s in decidedly better. That’s just a fact. As the years progress, her roles will become juicier and juicier, with big time stardom on the horizon. She’s got the goods, so it’s just a matter of filmmakers connecting with her and casting her.
On Friday, audiences can finally start to see what I’ve been raving about when Flower hits screens. It’s a wonderful movie, small yet with lots to offer, and one that stands out among the very best of 2018 so far. The film sells itself, but Deutch helps make it a must see. You’ve seen her turn here mentioned numerous times within lists I’ve done since Tribeca last year, and expect to see it cited again and again this year. If I had a vote, she’d at least be an Oscar nominee at the end of the year. Give it a look and see for yourself…
Be sure to check out Deutch in Flower, opening in limited release this weekend!