Petals on the Wind (2014) **
D: Karen Moncrieff
C: Ellen Burstyn, Heather Graham, Rose McIver, Wyatt Nash, Bailey Buntain, Dylan Bruce, Will Kempt, Whitney Hoy, Nick Searcy, Ellia English
Plot Synopsis: A decade after Cathy, Christopher, and Carrie escaped from their grandparents' attic at Foxworth Hall, Petals on the Wind continues to follow the twisted plight of the family as they attempt to put their sordid past behind them, but soon discover certain secrets can't be left behind. When tragedy strikes the Dollangangers yet again, Cathy returns to Foxworth Hall to confront her grandmother and to seek revenge on her mother with a plan to seduce her husband Bart.
REVIEW: Petals on the Wind has an attractive cast of up & coming talent mixed with veteran talent. The film is polished looking. Everyone's hair & makeup is done just right. The costumes, sets and various props look just about as luxurious as there ever going to look in a TV movie, but let's not beat around the bush. Even though there is some degree of pedigree involved in the making and casting of Petals on the Wind, this is not a film that's aiming to be high art. This is a film that's all about theatrics, all about the drama, all about grandeur and delivering those elements in a pulp ish kind of way.
We watch as the characters of Cathy (McIver) and Christopher (Nash) explore their incestuous relationship with one another. We watch as Cathy seeks revenge on her mother (Graham) & grandmother (Burstyn) for the torture & abuse that she & her siblings suffered as children. We watch as Kathy purposely seduces her mom's husband (Bruce) and we watch as all of this comes to a boil in the finale.
I won't deny it. I enjoyed some of the double crosses & manipulations. I enjoyed the perverseness of a brother & sister exploring their sexual feelings for one another. However, Petals on the Wind never quite has that sting or bite that the material requires. Cathy's revenge on her family never feels as malicious as say Sarah Michelle Gellar's revenge in Cruel Intentions nor has that sexual spark of say Wild Things.
Airing on the Lifetime channel probably helped the film reach a broader audience, but, at the same time, the material is toned down in order to fit into Lifetime's content guidelines. It's trash, but it's not nearly trashy enough. If this had been produced for AMC or F/X, they could have pushed the envelope more so.
The other chief problem is that it was produced as a TV movie. Clocking in at around 86 minutes, we're never allowed to feel the full impact of certain scenes. For instance, there is a harrowing car crash and then the film cuts for a commercial break. The film then fast forwards to 10 months later. We're never allowed to feel the horror or panic of this car crash, because this scene is never allowed to properly develop. And it's not just this one scene, but several other scenes throughout including a suicide scene, a scene in which two people are caught kissing one another and even the ending!
In order to do justice to the Dollanganger series of books from V.C. Andrews and to properly explore all of the events that unfold, each of these book should have been formatted into a TV miniseries. Or another idea would have been to take the whole series and develop it as a one time (as in one season) TV series. As is, Petals on the Wind is such a waste of a perfectly good V.C. Andrews novel. [Not Rated] 86 mins.
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