Josephine Decker and Zefrey Throwell's Flames
Love and its aftermath.
"Their hot-blooded and hotter-headed romance went off the rails in a matter of months," writes Steve Dollar, reviewing Flames for ARTnews, "but artists-filmmakers-performers Josephine Decker and Zefrey Throwell remained tethered by an emotionally impossible project: to expose the sublime and sordid moments of their relationship, even years after they both had moved on to new personal arrangements. The couple’s shared passion for risk-taking exhibitionism and the film’s candid sexual interludes suggest a kind of 9½ Weeks for micro-budget cinema fans, with New York as an exalted public playground." "There’s a fair amount of graphic sex, but the most uncomfortable and intimate moments are fully clothed," writes Flavorwire's Jason Bailey. "The filmmakers deftly get at how the first glow of infatuation allows you to easily put aside the little tics, affectations, and oversights that are often warning signs of later trouble, and how straight-up nasty you can get with the people you say you love. At one point, in a key argument, they just take the dialogue track out—by then, the particulars of what they’re saying don’t matter anyway. We’ve all been there, which is part of what makes this seemingly insular New York artist story so universal, and so affecting." Flames, which premiered at this year's Tribeca Film Festival, "can’t decide whether it’s a document of a relationship or a performative stunt intended to highlight the inherent narcissism of new romance, and this indecision has been consciously captured by Throwell and Decker," writes Chuck Bowen at the House Next Door. "This mixture of intentionality and spontaneity is head-spinning, and conjures a barely controlled and intensely figurative chaos. The film’s most evocative and ambiguous moments suggest that all romance is performance art, even if staged for an audience of two…. Near its midway point, Flames grows tougher, weirder, and more ambiguous, casting much of its early cuteness in a starker light." "As a couple," writes Sam Weisberg in the Voice, "they cut loose their own way—like visiting the Maldives on a whim (Decker throws a dart at a map on the ceiling and it lands there, so that’s where they go). Or partaking in a weeklong, publicly advertised exhibit in which they and their buddies play strip poker behind a see-through storefront window…. Flames never quite transcends such whimsies…. That said, some of the post-breakup footage is exhilarating."
Interview by Matt Grobar for Deadline
"Flames marks cinematographer Ashley Connor’s third feature collaboration with filmmaker, artist and performer Josephine Decker—she previously lensed Decker’s Thou Wast Mild and Lovely and Butter on the Latch," writes Filmmaker's Scott Macaulay, introducing his interview with Connor. "As a work of cinema, it gains much from Connor’s intelligent lensing, which gets up close and personal when it needs to while, other times, hanging back and, with a cool, alien eye, revealing the couple as figures within a larger social landscape." Diana Drumm (Film Stage) and Stephen Saito talk with Connor and Decker and Throwell, and Joseph Allen has a few questions for Decker at Women and Hollywood. And at the Playlist, Ally Johnson gives Flames a B.