This is an 18+ movie and the write up is for 18+ persons. Please do not read any further if you are less than 18 yrs age.
A. The lead character Erica aka Flower is a 17 yr old teenager who has her ‘gang’ of 2 other girls, and who lives with her mother and her mother’s man-friend.
Flower is shown to be a fast talking seductress who does ‘blow jobs’ for money, (saving up to bail her father out) but also for other things, e.g. drugs, just to please another person) etc. The movie shows how, she offers to do it to her ‘stepbrother’ (to make him feel better; “I like sucking dick, it wouldn’t be a burden”) and spontaneously to an alleged pedophile who she is to seduce! Her no guilt, no hesitation approach towards this sexual encounter is, in her own words, “the dick is just like a thumb without a fingernail”; and then she goes on to link it to feminism as well becoz men can do it with women so why not women (can do it to) too. “I don’t care what other people think about me. If a dude goes around eating pussy, nobody gives a fuck, nobody calls him a slut” is her rationalisation!
That Flower is a disturbed teenager is clear and is presented in the movie very well. Apart from her distorted views about oral sex and extorting money, she also has an aggressive streak in her when she punches her schoolmate over the latter pointing out that her dad’s in jail. She refuses to apologize to her step brother on her mother’s request “I am not a 12 yr old”, and only acquiesces when her mother changes her stance to “saying something nice”. It isn’t easy for Erica to be nice though, and after some practice, catalysed by hair tickles by her mother, she manages to appreciate the nice eyes of her new step brother! That is a sign of a rebellious, aggressive, disorderly thought process of a difficult 17yr old teenager.
Erica’s increasingly focussed attempts at extorting and punishing the “hot, old guy” at the bowling alley make things even more pacier in the movie and bring us closer to understanding her unconscious aggression towards ‘perverts’ and yet feeling attracted towards the opposite sex. She has expertise in being a “dick whisperer” but is still a virgin, she kisses back with passion when her target kisses her, but then doesn’t admit it to her mates, when they point it out.
In one part of the film, Erica mentions, “I have dad issues” and it is a part psychological admission of her love hate relationship with adult men. Her dad is in jail, doesn’t call her, and when released from Jail doesn’t bother coming to her either. Yet Erica is saving up on bail money, refusing to accept the new man in her mother’s life and at the same time seducing adult men for extortion.
It should be clear to parents and concerned persons watching the movie that Flower doesn’t feel she is disturbed and neither does her mother (regretfully). Looking at her and talking to Flower, will not make you feel there is anything wrong, either in her own emotional state or in her perspective of the world. Yet, minor signs are there which should have been picked up by her mother.
I found it surprising, that Flower’s mother finds her ‘sketch book’ with drawings of the penis’ she services and her only comment is “whatever you do in your own time is totally up to you, but you cannot just leave that lying around”. Mom points out that Erica can be ‘scary’ with people and asks her ‘to keep it in check’; but mother herself calls Flower a ‘crazy bitch’ in love and a ‘lady’ when being sarcastically angry. Mother wants Erica to accede to her requests but ends up offering her money for doing what the mom wants! These are all signs of a bad parent child relationship.
B. Apart from Erica, the movie also has Luke, the step brother of Erica. He is an 18 yr old who is ‘released’ from rehab after 8 months (!?) where he was admitted for popping pills “mostly oxy’s”: Oxy is oxycodone a painkiller. The mental health learning for us from Luke is how he is still unwell after rehab, a phenomenon I see very often as rehab doesn’t seem to help the person admitted but leaves him/her more disturbed. It is almost as if we are sending people to prison for a problem science says is a disorder but rehab says is a social problem that keeping dependent people stuck inside rehab can solve!!
Luke has a ‘panic attack’ within a few hours of coming out, despite being on dinner with his family. And all his father can say is’ “you can do it . . .just count to ten . . you’re trained for this now”. The carb restricted diet idea didn’t help either, I guess! When will people learn to respect people’s choices, even if they are out of rehab?
As Luke’s story unfolds in the midst of all that Erica is saying, it turns out he had accused a teacher of touching his private parts while in school, but the police could not find any evidence and threw out the case, which apparently devastated him and added to his going to rehab. We get to know this after Luke tries to hang himself, a person who has lost all hope of ever getting back his life on track, but luckily Erica is there to watch him fall down as the support on which the rope is tied gives way!! “Stupid” says Luke to himself, as I assume he feels even this action of his didn’t turn out the way he wanted it to (a feeling expressed by many survivors of self-harm).
C. The mental health issues in this movie are thus not merely of a troubled, rebellious, reckless teenager, who is into delinquent behaviour, but also about another 18 yrs young person who is unable to deal with the unfortunate consequences of his actions in school by making up a story and falsely implicating a teacher in a molestation case. His mood must have been a problem even before his words were not found to be strong enough to prosecute the teacher, because he says (as per the therapist) “food kinda calms me down and makes me think less of anxiety situations”. Bingeing is a known adolescent disorder linked strongly to mood and weight. But it is also a sign that something is wrong and getting your teenager to a good therapist, even if for bingeing, is a start to get a lot of things corrected before they turn nasty-something that happened for Luke. Such youngsters have anger issues, but their lack of assertiveness also places them at a disadvantage as they cannot say no to others and end up being in situations of risk. Luke ends up being a part of Erica’s plan to seek revenge on his behalf, even though Luke knows he lied. Anger makes Luke hit out and punch the teacher just as Erica is almost saving the ‘target’.
The learning from this movie is for all who care for teenagers and young persons. Kindly spot things when they are not right, and visit a Psychiatrist as early as possible. Kindly get your parent child relationship as normal as possible and if you can’t then get some pointers from a mental health professional, please.