Florence Welch of Florence + the Machine is a study in contrasts. Under the bohemian wrappings (custom Gucci ensembles of hand-embroidered tigers, snakes, bees, flora and fauna), ethereal waves of strawberry hair, angelic voice and cosmic lyrics, she is a woman in the messy, dirty process of breaking old cycles and patterns.
Last night at the Ace Theatre in Downtown L.A., she premiered “The Odyssey,” a short film that connects four songs from the 2015 Florence + the Machine album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful through a series of scenes shot in Los Angeles, Scotland and the Yucatan Peninsula town of Merida, Mexico. Welch teamed up with her friend, director Vincent Haycock, and choreographer Ryan Heffington (who created the powerful dance sequences featured in Sia’s “Chandelier” and “Elastic Heart” videos) and the result is a stunning journey through a painful break-up.
Before the film, Heffington presented two live dance performances on stage, for “What Kind of Man” and “St. Jude,” featuring a Florence-like character who alternately fawns over and fights with a group of men as they circle around her. Through dance, the film lushly captures the crushing sadness of a lost love as well as the frenzied rage of someone who struggles to reject the rejection of a lover. After the film, there was a brief Q&A with Welch, Haycock and Heffington, in which she revealed that dancing had become a creative outlet for her in the wake of her breakup and a decision not to be as reliant upon alcohol. The result was a new way to communicate, and she showed this throughout the film with a simple gesture of reaching for another character’s mouth and, in effect, pulling them into her own, and vice versa.
Another interesting detail is that Welch calls her wild-eyed, emotional alter ego “Delilah,” and let “her” roam free in “The Odyssey,” most notably in a scene where Welch is happily serving tea to her family around a dining table while Delilah wreaks havoc, pulling hair and punches. The contrast of what we thought we knew of Florence Welch – the gorgeous Art Deco clothes and ladylike voice – to the gritty, battered soul of Delilah makes “The Odyssey” that much sweeter. She is just like us. Her world is like ours. We are all in this together, and we share all of it: the big, the blue and the beautiful.
More about The Odyssey can be found here: