Himika Akram reporter
Matt Smukler’s feature film debut “Wildflower” was a striking reminder of the Oscar-winning film CODA, but with its own standpoint. The main character of this coming of age “dramedy” is Bea, a teenage girl, who is the daughter of two intellectually disabled parents Sharon and Derek. As the name suggests, this “wildflower” is Bea herself. The way a wildflower blossoms without any care or nurturing, this is what Bea’s life is like.
The movie is a flashback with a voiceover of Bea, who is now in a coma; nearly killed by a mysterious accident. Sharon, her mom, was born with a disability which impeded proper brain development for her; on the other hand, Derek; victim of a motorcycle accident with a brain injury caused by that; lost some of his cognitive ability. However, both fell in love with each other, despite their parents never wanting this marriage to happen. In fact, both parents were planning how to get them divorced or medically prevent them from having a child. Sounds cruel, but each character has a chance to explain their viewpoint in the script.
However, finally they got married; and started living a decent life in a van, and later, in a modest house in Vegas. Life was going smoothly for Bea, as she was only a little kid back then. It was until one day, her dog ran away because her mom left the door open; Bea realized, her parents are different. It is not like they are taking proper care of her; rather in her parents’ case, it is the opposite. This realization made her grow up extremely fast. Finding work in her teenage life, taking care of all the paperwork for her parents so that the government benefits reach them on time. Taking care of the tidbits of their daily lives; like reminding them of doctor’s appointments and managing her own good academic performance and dealing with the bullies from her peers at school.
Later, Bea, in love with a boy named Ethan, found herself in a grave dilemma, where she is about to sacrifice her own future and university education, simply because she thinks she needs to take care of her parents, which is her perpetual moral obligation. But she is such a young girl, whose entire life is waiting for her. She still has so many things to see, so many people to meet, so many mistakes to make; is she going to put an end to all of these and choose taking care of her disabled parents instead?
This was indeed a wonderful film to watch. Even though it is criticized for issues such there being no remarkable portrayal of Sharon’s love for Bea as a mother. Or not enough reasons were given to the audience to love the characters; trying to make comical caricatures of the disabled characters. I do not personally agree with them at all. This movie showed that even though people have disabilities, they can live their lives like any other human being. That even though they can do so, the world can be cruel to them and how they can be looked down on. It also portrays the role of an extended family in making a decision; something which is unusual to find in western movies.
Finally, this movie had a beautiful message: while it is our duty to take care of our family members, love, respect and adore them, we do not have to lose ourselves in doing so. Do not forget that you are an individual who must lead their own life. My personal rating of this movie would be 7.5/10. It did not make me teary-eyed, but it still made me feel different emotions and ponder some aspects of life.