Over the past several years, more and more films have depicted what it means to be a single parent. Sometimes we get the father and son scenario or the mother and daughter, but it’s been a good while since a film made us remember how tough it is for a mother to raise a son alone. The film Flutter written and directed by Eric Hueber hits familiar beats that may remind some of Beast of the Southern Wild, but the journey is no less important when compared to similar character studies that companion each other like Black Swan and The Wrestler, or Se7en and Prisoners.
Flutter tells the story of Jolynn, a young mother who is stuck raising her son Johnathan with no job and no husband around to help support. To make things more problematic, Johnathan has glaucoma and doesn’t respond well to the meds prescribed by his doctors. So in order to keep her child from going blind she grows hydroponic marijuana and serves him pot brownies for medicine. This not only makes Johnathan’s world more colorful, but allows him to escape into his own mind outside of his poverty lifestyle. He runs around with his pet pig Wee Wee and fights monsters with his wild imagination.
Hueber presents his characters in a way that makes sense to the human condition. No matter how bad life gets, or poor someone becomes the last thing we want to do is give up our child. JoLynn’s story in Flutter is about how far a mother will fight to maintain her offspring. She makes mistakes along the way but everything she does is in the protection of her cub. Lindsay Pulsipher gives a fantastic performance and hits the right emotional notes when they are needed. Especially when it comes to expressing the true love a mother has for her little boy.
I think one of the details I found interesting about this film is it illustrates the dangers of glaucoma, which is a change of pace considering most films reference as a joke, rather than an extremely dangerous condition. The doctors won’t prescribe her son marijuana, and he keeps having bad reactions to the meds they put him on, so she secretly gives him her own stash in brownie form. If she doesn’t, the pressure in his head and eyes could cause him to go blind. Qualities like this give the audience a reason to question what they would do in the same situation. If it was your kid, would you risk going to jail just to make sure he didn’t suffer?
Fans of Breaking Bad will enjoy seeing some of their favorite alumni such as Jesse Plemons who played the creepy Tod character in Season 5. Here Plemons is a much softer character, but still unlikable in ways. He plays the father who has abandoned Jolynn for a life in music. What will impress most people is Plemons is actually a great singer. At the beginning he executes a really strong folk song that the film pulled its name from.
The other Breaking Bad member is Charles Baker, who is best known as Skinny Pete (Cue applause). In this film he plays a very unusual drug dealer, which is not a huge departure from Breaking Bad. Baker isn’t in the film for very long but it’s always great to see Skinny Pete, even if it is brief.
Overall, Flutter is a strong film with some fantastic performances from its lead cast. Some may find the tone depressing, but if you’re a glass half full kind of person like myself, then you will see this as a touching glance at the relationships between Mother and child. I think tons of single Moms out there will appreciate the realism of the story and appreciate the tale. The only downfall for me is that it might have too many similarities with Beasts of the Southern Wild. All that aside, it’s incredibly well made, and might even be the better film. If anything, Flutter is a strong companion piece to watch before or after finishing Beasts of the Southern Wild.