2014 / Director. Karen Moncrieff.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
PETALS ON THE WIND is the follow up to FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC and it is infinitely worse (and yet so much more enjoyable). I actually watched it in a constant state of disbelief and a fair amount of shame. The fact that it was nighttime only added to the confusion considering the striking resemblance it bears to daytime soap.
It is the second instalment in the Lifetime network’s Dollanganger saga, which of course began with FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC. I watched it with an unnatural curiosity. The novels aren’t exactly the type of trash that I would read and yet I have a weird fascination with the story and was keen to see where it went. Of course I could have just read the synopsis on Wikipedia but wheres the fun in that? I am indulging the “car crash” factor… or at least that’s what I’m running with.
The story picks up 10 years following the events of the first film and we are reunited with the Dollanganger children. The eldest brother is now a med student. The middle girl is an up and coming ballerina and the youngest girl is in her final years of secondary school. It’s convoluted story of intertwined relationships that’s mostly strung together by themes of sex, incest, revenge and family secrets. When the traumatic memories of the attic persistently affect their lives they scheme a plot of revenge against their mother, the likes of which belongs in the sordid episodes of the trashiest soaps.
From the opening scene with its clunky sound design and shonky production values the film begins with the promise of mediocrity and delivers on that promise in spades. To give it some credit, in a step up from the first film the acting here is slightly better. Heather Graham, who was appalling in the previous instalment, steps up her game and delivers a half decent turn as the psychotic mother, although her screen time is limited. Ellen Burstyn returns as the evil grandmother, however her appearance is little more than a cameo (despite being the focal point of the promotional campaign). The rest of the cast are so-so and do their best with a script that can only be described as incredible…
Incredibly bad, that is!
Having not read the book I watched the film constantly wondering how faithful it was and whether it was making shit up as it went. I later read the synopsis of the original novel online and discovered that the film was almost entirely comprised of liberties. Very little of the book found its way onto the screen and the film’s narrative hop-scotched from one scenario to another, without any character or plot development and almost no resolution. It is essentially a patchwork of polarising scenes from the book, stitched together without any cohesion. What a steaming pile of shit.
And yet part of me enjoyed it. What the hell is wrong with me? The perpetual facepalms that were tenderising my forehead became a masochistic ritual and the worse the film became, the more pleasure I got. Now I know why so many house-wives (and house-husbands, for PC sake) become so obsessed and addicted to the bullshit television that rapes their daytime viewing.
There’s two more instalments in this series…. Stay tuned!