Then it was announced today that Kiernan Shipka had signed on to play our favorite barred ballerina, Catherine Dollanganger, with yes! Heather Graham as the I'm-bad-but-not-as-bad-as-my-own-Mother...or-am-I? Mother Corinne and even-more-deliciously-cast Ellen Burstyn (I'm barely able to resist double exclamation points) as The Most Evil Grandmother in Film, Olivia Foxworth, making Mommie Dearest (a characterization I never believed) look like June Cleaver on valium.
The earlier version, starring Kirsty Swanson and Louise Fletcher had promise (Fletcher!) but failed to deliver. Wes Craven was signed on originally and imagine! But they whitewashed it even then. I'm sure the protest now will be as strong, if not stronger than ever-the subject matter alone in an age where teens can get arrested for sex crimes for being in a relationship, mothers killing kids and Castro's house of horrors are nightly news fodder. Which makes "Flowers" beyond tricky. It's icky. And sicky. It's all kinds of wrong. And so is Sharknado. Which is why we love it so. It's just so wrong! (I could do a whole other essay on why I love TV movies but I would have to co-write it with Kim Morgan, who I bonded with over "Love and Betrayal: The Mia Farrow Story" on Lifetime.)
Catherine is the classic archetypal heroine and if Joseph Campbell were alive, he'd have a field day with her: blonde, beautiful, smart, and born to be a ballerina, helplessly imprisoned. These are all the elements of the classic fairy tale. And we must remember that fairy tales are inherently wrought with evil both inside and out: the conscious evil that has to be fought and won for physical and spiritual freedom, and the evil within. Throw all of this into a "young adult" fiction circa 1979: the year of my bad perm, beginning to smoke, fighting with freckled chubbiness, playing pinball, going roller skating...Catherine is what all of us, those ungainly girls, aspired to. And that book, all gatefold-covered, spine-cracked and dog-eared, passed through our eighth-grade class faster than a purloined Benson and Hedges' from someone's mother's purse.
I'm not going to write any more about the plot (although Jezebel has already called Shipka a "brotherfucker" so there you have it) but this has it all in one letter: illness, imprisonment, infusions, ingenuity, ingestion, inheritance, insanity, and finally... donuts.*
*Although, in the 1997 version, it was cookies. The book says donuts!