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Red White & Blue - IFC Midnight Print E-mail
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Written by Ray Casta   
Monday, 04 April 2011

Red, White & Blue Poster Artwork on Severed Cinema

Directed by: Simon Rumley
Written by: Simon Rumley
Produced by: Bob Portal, Simon Rumley
Cinematography by: Milton Kam
Music by: Richard Chester
Cast: Noah Taylor, Amanda Fuller, Marc Senter, Nick Ashy Holden, Patrick Crovo
Year: 2010
Country: USA
Language: English
Color: Color
Runtime: 1 h 44 min

Distributor: IFC Midnight

The tagline, "Three lives... bound together in blood", sounds trite.  On the other hand, I cannot think of a more suitable title that says a lot without saying anything at all.  In writer/director Simon Rumley's "Red White & Blue," there are three sides to the story.  The principal characters, whom are flawed and damaged in their own ways, are followed in each act of the film.  The first act follows the awry exploits of Erica (Amanda Fuller), a reckless twenty-something who hops from bar to bar all across Austin, Texas for one-night stands.  In a nervy, untarnished performance, Fuller's Erica seems to have no qualms having sex with total strangers.  She doesn't even believe in condoms, as she tells a man who insists on using one that "condoms are for homo's."  She meets Nate (Noah Taylor), a mysterious, stagnant Iraqi war vet, who has recently moved into the same building as her.

Erica is a tortured soul.  She sleeps around rather carelessly, and refuses to get close with anyone in her life.  When she strikes up an unlikely relationship with Nate, her part of the story ends.  Franki (Mark Senter) is introduced next.  He is part of a local rock band, who call themselves, "The Exits."  Things are not going so well for him.  His rock band is struggling.  His girlfriend leaves him.  On top of that, he cares for his mother who is slowly dying of cancer.  When things cannot possibly get any worse for Franki, they do.  And that's merely the beginning.  The film leads into the third act, where the shady Nate character is explored further.  He opens up to Erica, and he tells her about his disturbed childhood, and what he used to do to animals for fun.  It's revealed he was an Army interrogator, and he is thinking of taking up a job with the CIA.  His mystery is intriguing.  He is up to something.  This is where the film descends into pure, bloodcurdling horror.  Shit really hits the fan.

Up until a certain point, I had no idea what "type" of movie "Red White & Blue" was going to be.  It would be a crime for any reviewer to give its plot turns away.  Some online reviews have divulged far too much information, which is unfortunate considering it's much better to be in the dark about what's in store here.  It's not a "twist" in the traditional sense, nor is it something viewers won't be able to figure out sooner than later.  The conflict which drives the story forward is adroitly simple once revealed, but the beauty of the film is its precise build up and sense of impending doom.  The pacing finds a middle ground by not being too hasty or too slow.  It catches its viewers off guard by delivering a brutal gut-punch at the perfect moment.  "Red White & Blue" is so distressingly intense, it's like we are passengers in a vehicle going 100 mph towards oncoming traffic -- and we cannot do anything but brace ourselves for the impact.

There is no one to root for, as Simon Rumley's screenplay never opts for a traditional "hero".  The characters are like real people.  They are so deeply flawed and trapped in a rubble of their own pain and suffering.  This is a penetrating character study, where its viewers genuinely feel for and care about what happens to them.  We empathize with Erica's haphazardness and we feel her desolation.  We feel for Nate's affection and attraction to Erica, as if he wants to "save" her from herself.  We identify with Franki's undiminished love for his mother, who is near death.  None of the actors go through the motions.  The performances are superbly nuanced.  Their characters wear masks that mask their true emotions, and they manifest them through their facial expressions and mannerisms.  A standout is Noah Taylor, who can turn from polite and quiet to sadistic at the drop of a hat.  He is downright frightening, at times.  Marc Senter may not be as strong as Taylor or Fuller, but there are some heartbreaking moments where he gets to shine.

Ultimately, what does the title of the film mean?  The title, very much open to interpretation, can mean different things.  There is an American flag present in each of the character's segments, but the symbolism is never heavy-handed.  It is no surprise Nate is an Iraqi war vet -- he is a lethal weapon, trained to hunt and kill by the United States.  When he breaks in a house, his actions recall the military kicking down doors in a foreign country.  Only difference is, he is now wreaking havoc on American soil.  He represents an authoritative power, not unlike the United States and its preponderant foreign policy.  I'd also like to believe the colors, 'red, white and blue' stand for something in relation to the characters.  There are different ways to view the movie, and under its shifting layers, it's a tragic love story.  It's a shattering, emotionally honest relationship drama infused with taut, confrontational revenge horror.

Red, White & Blue Screenshot Image on Severed Cinema

Many reviews have drawn comparisons to Simon Rumley's direction to that of Richard Linklater's style of filmmaking.  You'd be hard pressed to deny the influences amid Rumley's film, but it's quite effective how the effortless "Slacker" vibe lulls us into a casual milieu in the first act, only to consequently reveal its dark nature.  The Richard Chester score goes hand in hand with this effect.  With its conventional piano loops, the score is simplistic at first.  As the film develops and we're taken to some fucked up places, the score amplifies in intensity.  The sound design moves to the same tune as the action on screen.  With a combo of handheld camerawork and static shots, Rumley's direction is visceral.  You can trust the camera is always in the right place.  Despite some shortcomings in its budget, "Red White & Blue" is filmed with a sharpshooter's precision and a supreme attention to detail.

From its opening to the haunting closing frames, "Red White & Blue" is powerful cinema.  The themes of loss, love and relationships culminate in tragedy.  Once the primitive wheels of retribution get rolling, there is no turning back.  Perhaps the saddest part about it all is how the pain and suffering could have been avoided if they handled conflict in a different way.  Violence is a destructive, ugly thing.  If you expect Rumley to dwell on the gore and violence, he doesn't.  Deeply affecting, the film doesn't celebrate violence, or revel in it.  This is the type of violence that is painful, not only to the characters but its viewers as well.  A harrowing slice of Americana gone terribly wrong, "Red White & Blue" chronicles an uncompromisingly harsh downward spiral.  Suspension of disbelief is required for some coincidences that propel the story.  But there is real life cataclysm that brings the characters together.  Bound together in blood, the three characters represent society if we ever lose hope.  Highly recommended.

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Red, White & Blue Screenshot Image on Severed Cinema

Red, White & Blue Screenshot Image on Severed Cinema

Red, White & Blue Screenshot Image on Severed Cinema

Red, White & Blue Screenshot Image on Severed Cinema

Red, White & Blue Screenshot Image on Severed Cinema

Red, White & Blue Screenshot Image on Severed Cinema

Red, White & Blue Screenshot Image on Severed Cinema

Red, White & Blue Screenshot Image on Severed Cinema

Red, White & Blue Screenshot Image on Severed Cinema

Red, White & Blue Screenshot Image on Severed Cinema

Red, White & Blue Screenshot Image on Severed Cinema

Red, White & Blue Screenshot Image on Severed Cinema

Red, White & Blue Screenshot Image on Severed Cinema

Red, White & Blue Screenshot Image on Severed Cinema

Red, White & Blue Screenshot Image on Severed Cinema

Red, White & Blue Screenshot Image on Severed Cinema

Red, White & Blue Screenshot Image on Severed Cinema

 RATING:
 MOVIE: 1 
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3.22 Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved."

Last Updated ( Monday, 04 April 2011 )
 
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