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'Flowers in the Attic' Lifetime movie gets mostly negative reviews from critics

The Lifetime TV-movie version of "Flowers in the Attic" (which premieres at 8 p.m. EST/PST on Jan. 18, 2014) has been getting mostly negative reviews from TV critics, according to reviews published before the premiere. However, public interest in Lifetime's "Flowers in the Attic" seems to be high enough that on Jan. 17, 2014, "Flowers in the Attack" was in the Top 10 of Google searches. It's a clear indication that "Flowers in the Attic" will be a hit for Lifetime, which has announced that the network is also going to do a movie version of "Petals on the Wind," a sequel to "Flowers in the Attic."

Pictured clockwise from top left: Mason Dye, Kiernan Shipka, Maxwell Kovach and Ava Telek
Pictured clockwise from top left: Mason Dye, Kiernan Shipka, Maxwell Kovach and Ava Telek
Heather Graham, Ava Telek, Mason Dye and Kiernan Shipka in "Flowers in the Attic"

"Flowers in the Attic" is based on V.C. Andrews' controversial 1979 novel of the same name. The book was made into a 1987 feature film (released in theaters) starring Louise Fletcher, Victoria Tennant and Kristy Swanson. The 1987 "Flowers in the Attic" movie bombed with critics and movie audiences. One of the biggest criticisms of the 1987 "Flowers in the Attic" movie was that it left out the brother/sister incest storyline which is crucial to the plot of the book.

The 2014 Lifetime TV-movie version of "Flowers in the Attic" includes the incest storyline, but TV critics are saying that the movie is still fairly dull in its dialogue and pacing.

Here is Lifetime's description of its version of "Flowers in the Attic":

"Flowers in the Attic" weaves the twisted story of the Dollanganger kids who, after the unexpected death of their father, are convinced by their mother Corrine to stay hidden in the attic of their wealthy grandparents’ mansion so she can reclaim the family fortune. But as her visits begin to wane after she becomes involved with a new husband, the children endure unimaginable treatment at the hands of their ruthless grandmother Olivia Foxworth. As years go by and the eldest children Cathy and Christopher come of age, both emotionally and physically, their family’s sordid past entraps them further as they look to each other for comfort. Starring Heather Graham, Academy Award, Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winner Ellen Burstyn, Kiernan Shipka, Mason Dye and Dylan Bruce.

This "Today" blog has spoilers that give details about how faithful the Lifetime TV-movie of "Flowers in the Attic" is to the book.

Here are excerpts of reviews from critics:


"'Flowers in the Attic' is smut for pubescent girls. This is the salient fact about the 1979 novel, the one that explains its lasting power, and the one that troubles all attempts to turn it into a movie, even a Lifetime movie—another form of smut for pubescent girls and the women they turn into. This Saturday night, a new version of 'Flowers,' the strange love story of a horribly abused and neglected girl and her just as abused and neglected brother, premieres on Lifetime, starring 'Mad Men’s' Kiernan Shipka. It is simultaneously less explicit than the book and more explicit than the 1987 TV movie adaptation, a bit of careful positioning that only highlights its odd message about the virtues of overcoming abuse through incest ... But teen sexuality is tricky subject material. Teen sexuality manifested in incest is trickier still. And the new Lifetime movie is not up to the job. 'Flowers in the Attic,' like so many Lifetime movies, tells the story of a young woman triumphing over debasement."

New York Times

"If you’re going to make a movie about four children who are locked in their room for years because their grandfather can’t know they’re alive, the last thing you want to do is play it straight. Unfortunately, that’s the only way Lifetime knows how to play it. The network’s new adaptation of “Flowers in the Attic,” V. C. Andrews’s best-selling 1979 novel about bad parenting, whips and the love that dare not take a DNA test, is what it is — a movie of the week, plopping off the assembly line with a little more gothic atmosphere than usual and some expensive accessories. These consist of Heather Graham, Ellen Burstyn and the up-and-coming Kiernan Shipka, who goes from playing an unhappy daughter in 'Mad Men' to playing a really unhappy daughter here."


"Fans of V.C. Andrews’ best-selling potboiler 'Flowers in the Attic' have been waiting more than 30 years for a faithful screen adaptation. They’ll get that, but not much more from this lackluster Lifetime production toplining precocious 'Mad Men' scene-stealer Kiernan Shipka in her first leading role. Lacking either the Gothic atmosphere that could have transformed trashy material into something truly chilling or an over-the-top camp factor that would’ve ensured a lowbrow guilty pleasure, 'Flowers' has to rely on a mix of nostalgia and curiosity to draw in viewers, or risk seeing plans for an already-in-development sequel wither on the vine."

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