Hitting theaters Friday and Digital/On Demand March 21, Wildflower is a coming-of-age film that is inspired by filmmaker Matt Smukler’s family. Smukler’s niece Christina cared for her neurodivergent parents, and their relationship served as the basis for Smukler’s 2020 documentary. The filmmaker talks about how lead actress Kiernan Shipka approached the script (co-penned by Smukler and Jana Savage) and he also recounts a mosquito filled shooting experience with co-stars Jean Smart and Jacki Weaver!!
Wildflower centers on Bea Johnson (Kiernan Shipka), an industrious and loving teen who is balancing her school work, part time job, and taking care of her intellectually disabled parents (Dash Mihok and Samantha Hyde, delivering inspired work). An accident leaves Bea in a coma, and much of the narrative is told in flashback as we see Bea’s journey with her family.
I review Wildflower with CinemAddicts co-hosts Bruce Purkey and Eric Holmes on this week’s episode:
The ensemble is top notch (Alexandra Daddario, Jean Smart, Jacki Weaver, Brad Garrett, Erika Alexander, Victor Rasuk, Ryan Kiera Armstrong, Charlie Plummer), and it is amazing that an indie film would gain a bevy of talented performers. Most of them get their moment in the film to shine. I asked director/co-writer Matt Smukler about a resonant sequence between Jacki Weaver and Jean Smart, who play Bea’s grandmas. It was definitely a mosquito filled experience!!
“When Kiernan and I met, we talked extensively about the project and the characer,” said Smukler. “Part of her process was not necessarily to sit down with my niece and instead take stuff off the page and make it her own. Which I think was really cool – I was into that as well. We really just talked about the character in terms of the character on the page and that was kind of the bulk of it. There was no (going back) and look at interviews and footage of Christina. It was really Kiernan using that as an inspiration but just make it her own.”
Full interview with Matt Smukler is available on Video and Audio versions below:
Wildflower hits theaters March 17 and will be available On Digital and On Demand March 21.