The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

22 January 2006

Going floral

The mockumentary form didn't originate with This Is Spinal Tap, but Tap gave it its marching orders: show us something we wouldn't have seen otherwise, and make it funny.

Last night I got to see a picture called Making Arrangements, written and directed by Melissa Scaramucci, produced by her and Peter Austin Hermes (also director of photography), and it takes orders very well: it blows the lid off the allegedly-placid world of the commercial florist, and it's funny as hell.

Shot in 2002 in Oklahoma City, standing in as a mid-America Anytown — the COMMERCIAL VEHICLE decal on the shop's van bumper gives it away, and there's a brief glimpse of a Braum's bag — Making Arrangements is set in an upscale flower shop called "Flowers By Design," which is going through a fairly hectic period already (two weddings, a couple of parties) when one of the biggest names in town suddenly drops dead and the demand for flowers — really good flowers, not the mundane stuff indulged in by hoi polloi — goes completely off the scale. And of course, the staff of Flowers By Design work in perfect harmony to make sure everything happens exactly the way it should.

Yeah, right.

There might have been an instance or two when the ostensible documentary crew seemed a bit too omniscient for maximum plausibility, but this is a quibble: the characters are strongly detailed and intelligently developed, a neat trick considering how much of the film was actually improvised on the spot, and while you can see the conflicts coming, you can't predict more than a shot or two ahead. And what makes this story work is the Us vs. Them dynamic: yes, the customer is always right, but more often than not, the customer is a tremendous pain in the ass. (Hint: do not order black roses, even if you're dating a Goth girl.)

Making Arrangements is not being screened locally at the moment; I snagged a copy on DVD by way of IndieFlix.com, where it is selling well, and deservedly so. I laughed a lot, and so will you.

Posted at 12:28 AM to Almost Yogurt