Last night, I watched the Lifetime original film, Petals On The Wind.
Why Was I Watching It?
It’s the sequel to one of the greatest Lifetime films of all time, Flowers in the Attic. How could I not watch it?
What Was It About?
10 years have passed since the Dollanganger children escaped from the attic. Christopher (Wyatt Nash) is a medical student who, despite being engaged, is still attracted to his sister, Cathy (Rose McIver). Cathy is a dancer who finds herself trapped in an abusive relationship with the handsome but controlling Julian (Will Kemp). And finally, Carrie (Bailey Buntain) is still struggling with her memories of being held prisoner. After several tragedies occur outside of the attic, Cathy returns to Foxworth Hall, looking to get revenge on both her grandmother (Ellen Burstyn) and her mother (Heather Graham).
Heather Graham and Ellen Burstyn reprised their roles from Flowers in the Attic and both of them gave Emmy-worthy performances. Burstyn, in particular, managed to invoke some sympathy for a potentially monstrous character while Graham brought a great combination of immaturity and evil to her character.
On a personal level, I appreciated all of the dancing. It brought back a lot of good memories.
What Did Not Work?
Watching Petals On The Wind really made me appreciate Flowers in the Attic, which was great for Flowers but not so good for Petals. As I sat there, trying to figure out why Petals just wasn’t working for me, it occurred to me that the strength of Flowers in the Attic was that the attic itself became as much a character as any of the Dollangangers. Even more importantly, being trapped in that attic, gave all of the characters a link that went beyond family and sex. For the viewer, that attic allowed us to know when the story had truly begun (when the kids were first locked up there) and when the story was over (when they finally got to leave). In Petals, without the attic, the story of Dollangangers often felt formless and random. As a result, the film may have been watchable but it was rarely compelling.
Since Petals was supposed to take place ten years after the end of Flowers, all of the Dollanganger children were recast. And while Rose McIvar and Wyatt Nash are both talented, they didn’t have much chemistry when they were on screen together (especially when compared to their predecessors in Flowers). That lack of chemistry made all of the incest even ickier than it would normally be.
“Oh my God! Just like me!” Moments
All of the dancing, of course! I also have to admit that, like Cathy, I’ve known a few Julians.
From a narrative point of view, it is sometimes better to just stay in the attic.