RED, WHITE AND BLUE (2010)
Starring Noah Taylor, Amanda Fuller, Marc Senter, Nick Ashy Holden, Patrick Crovo, Jon Michael Davis, Sally Jackson and Lauren Schneider.
Screenplay by Simon Rumley.
Directed by Simon Rumley.
Distributed by IFC Films. 104 minutes. Not Rated.
Red, White and Blue turns out to be a much different film than we expect it will be in the early going. It starts out as an arty and slightly sordid look at sex addiction and a woman trying to work past her demons. Then, suddenly, the movie’s thrust and tone become much darker. (Oh, yes, it can go in darker directions than that.)
The film is rather quiet and inscrutable. It is literally five minutes before there is any dialogue at all, and another two before the main character speaks. (At least she seems like the main character early on – more about that later.)
Her name is Erica, a rootless woman in her late twenties who has the habit of hanging at bars, getting drunk and going home with strangers for one-night stands. She only has two rules – she doesn’t fuck the same guy twice and she doesn’t do friends.
We first meet her in a strip club, where she ends up meeting and sleeping with three guys in a local band (a fourth guy, who is married, just watches). Then she goes home and tries desperately to wash the dirt from herself in the shower.
She seems to be trying to get her life back in order, in her own neurotic way. She finally gets a legit (if slightly menial) job at a local hardware superstore. (Though some habits are hard to break – she apparently ends up sleeping with most of her bosses.) She befriends a little boy she meets at the park – obviously supplementing her desire to be a mother.
She also enters into an uneasy platonic friendship with Nate, a skeletally thin, bearded former Iraq vet who lives at the same boarding house she does, works at the lumber center and claims to be being courted by the CIA for an important job. On their first extended conversation, he tells her about his history of torturing small animals as a child. Despite the red flags that would raise in most people, Erica sees him as a fellow wounded soul.
And Erica has a deep dark secret, one that she will not share with anyone.
Then after a half hour of following Erica around, the film abruptly (literally with no warning) switches lanes and goes back to tell us the story of Franki, one of the guys that Erica met in that initial gang bang.
Then we go through an additional twenty minutes where Erica is mostly forgotten about and we catch up with what happened with Franki and his friends – his mother who is suffering from cancer, his band which is finally taking off, his troubled relationship with his girlfriend and his dead-end job at a diner.
Eventually, halfway through the film, the two meet again (though using the word “meet” is a very polite way of putting it). This “reunion” ends up turning violent.
Like I said earlier, despite lots of arty and moody touches, as the movie winds down it becomes something quite different than it appears to be early on, devolving into an extremely violent (quite often disturbingly violent) revenge tale.
And, frankly, it becomes a much less interesting film – at least in my opinion.
The first half hour of Red White and Blue seemed fresh and explored some dark corners not often looked in by film. Even the extended introduction to Franki had some intriguing family drama.
Then, the two characters are thrust back together, and the last half becomes something we’ve all seen before – mostly people getting hunted down and attacked by a mad, malevolent force.
The film is unique because the violence becomes exceptionally graphic – particularly with the last death – but I’m not so sure that should really be a selling point. I am not a squeamish person and I even had to look away from the screen in more than one occasion towards the end. This sort of violence should be in torture porn exploitation movies like the Saw or Hostel franchises, but it really has little place in what is essentially a quirky and arty independent film.
I’m also not sure why the film is titled Red White and Blue. Other than the fact that one of the characters wears a beat-up jeans jacket with a patch of the American flag embroidered on it, there seems to be little explanation for the title. (Though the later scenes have an abundance of red – as in blood – but where are the white and blue?) Unless, of course, the filmmakers are trying to make a kind of pretentious suggestion that this is what has become of life in America in the new millennium.
I’m as cynical as the next guy, but I don’t buy that for a second.
Red, White and Blue is made with enough craft, fine acting, and cleverness that it does merit a viewing from those who are open-minded and not easily shocked. However, if you decide to skip the second half of the movie, I couldn’t blame you at all.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2010 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: October 13, 2010.