Director Matt Smukler’s narrative feature debut is a funny, compassionate coming-of-age story about a young woman caring for her intellectually disabled parents while seeking an independent life. Veterans Jean Smart and Jacki Weaver co-star with Mad Men’s Kiernan Shipka.
Contemporary World Cinema
Matt Smukler’s fiction feature debut is a big-hearted celebration of family in all its variety. Starring Kiernan Shipka as a young woman attempting to balance ordinary teenage struggles with extraordinary domestic obstacles, Wildflower is about growing up too fast and slowing down just enough to recognize one’s blessings.
Born to intellectually disabled but defiantly independent parents, Bea (Shipka) always knew her life was going to be different. For a while the family lives in a van, but even once they are installed in a house there are constant challenges with regards to getting everyone to work on time and tending to basic needs such as cooking and cleaning. Bea feels obliged to take care of her parents. She gets a job doing pool maintenance and, though she is an exceptional student, she ignores the pleas of her high school guidance counsellor to apply to colleges that would take her away from home. In any case, Bea might not actually make it to graduation: as Wildflower begins, she’s in a coma and knows neither how she got there nor if she’ll ever regain consciousness.
Inspired by a true story, Wildflower is powered by Bea’s witty, bewildered voiceover. With its top-notch ensemble cast — which includes Jean Smart and Oscar nominee Jacki Weaver as Bea’s battling grandmothers — the film spills over with compassion, curiosity, and boisterous, unpredictable life.