Flutter is one of those small independents that unless you’re looking for it is likely to get lost in the mass of summer releases and slip under your radar, and that would be unfortunate. Even at a festival I can see how the unassuming façade of this well produced little feature might not catch the eye of the usual attendee looking for the latest edgy story. However, if you take the time to seek out Flutter you’ll discover a little gem of a film that recalls the quality of the best productions of the independent world, films that tell a good story.
At first glance Flutter appears to be just another simple tale about a poor single mother struggling to get by with a young son who has some unusual medical condition (no spoilers here). However, not too long after the picture starts you’re drawn into the appealing story of motherly fortitude by the straightforward performances provided by the talented cast. Lacking the showiness of overwrought melodrama, Lindsay Pulsipher leads with her clear-cut depiction of a young mother going through the difficult day-to-day task of making ends meet in rural Texas. Looking not much older than the son she cares for, Pulsipher initially appears frail, but quickly takes on the persona of an iron willed force of nature that prioritizes her son above all else, but without shouting, crying or any other hysterics typical of films that don’t believe in the strength of their own tale.
It may not be an unusual basis for a plot, but just like any oft-told tale it’s the execution that makes a difference. I was particularly impressed with how the film avoids portraying anyone as an out and out bad guy (although the mother-in-law comes close) or as an “ideal” character. Rather we see everyone with their warts and all, with complex personalities that exist as a matter of fact. The father-in-law (Glenn Morshower) is sympathetic but no hero, the son (Johnathan Huth Jr.) is charming but irresponsible, and even our heroine, the mother, is allowed a freak-out and moments of horrible judgment. And the temptation to add a love story is handled in an unexpected yet satisfying manner as well, giving a mature relationship an honest portrayal that does not end up being the answer to the female lead’s problems. Imagine that?
The other very striking element to Flutter is the stylized cinematography. Although the film is shot with traditional compositions, it is the whitewashed look that provides an almost ethereal quality to the overall mood, constantly reminding us of the hot Texas sun, the starkness of everyday life, and the lack of artificial conveniences in the world laid out before us. The cinematography is put to exceptionally good use for the little vignettes that act almost like bookends to the major moments in the film. Appearing almost as if they may have been improvised, these unguarded moments of play between the boy, his mother and his beloved pet pig (yes, a pig) provide delightful bits of character development without the use of dialogue.
I realize that most films these days tend to focus on either the special effects or supposed “edgy” material. But personally, I prefer a good story that is told well regardless of the pomp and circumstance. Such is the case with Flutter. I know I haven’t said a lot about the plot here, but I prefer seeing films without knowing that much about them, especially when they’re good. And Flutter is exactly that: simply a good film. Period. Why would I want to take away the experience of you discovering that for yourself? So, go forth and discover Flutter, a quiet and powerfully satisfying film.