Red White and Blue (Simon Rumley, 2010)
Inside Simon Rumley’s Red White and Blue, often lurking just below the surface, is a great film straining to be released. I’m not entirely sure what would have brought that out; there were a lot of little bits, rather than one big ice floe, that kept the great film under; some places where the script could have used some attention (there’s a scene between Erica and Nate towards the end of the film’s first chapter where the dialogue is just howlingly bad), a few pieces of casting that seemed just a tiny bit off, a handful of places where maybe the lighting could have been better or the sound design was a little screwy. Nothing major, for the most part. It’s like a really good thriller got stuck in a cloud of gnats.
The film is told in three loose “chapters”, and follows three main characters. First is Erica (Creature‘s Amanda Fuller), what would have been termed in the old days a loose woman (in the extreme). She is the subject of the first chapter; after we see a few of these encounters, she meets Nate (Almost Famous‘ Noah Taylor), a shady character who offers her a job at a hardware megastore and slowly finds his way behind all the walls she’s put up against friendship by revealing a number of his own secrets (it should be obvious within three conversations what he’s getting at, but just in case you’re slow on the uptake, I won’t spoil it for you). The second chapter gives us Franki (The Lost‘s Marc Senter), the singer of a local band on the brink of stardom who we met in the opening scene (the whole band got themselves an offer from Erica, and with one exception, they all took her up on it). He has a very sick mother, we’re never quite sure with what (but we know it involves chemo and him donating blood on a regular basis for her to use), and he and his now-estranged father are not at all on good terms since his father found himself a new bimbo, but otherwise, things are looking up…until he gets a piece of information that puts him, and the rest of the band, on a collision course with Erica once again, leading to the third chapter. Things get, shall we say, a little out of control.
There have been the inevitable comparisons with…a certain film. Telling you which would spoil the entire second half of the movie, so I won’t (though read any other five random reviews of the film and you’re bound to see it), and they are in some ways warranted despite a major role reversal and this film going on considerably longer post-the events that invite the comparison. But Red White and Blue is its own movie, and it’s usually possible to see that very good film that this could easily have been with maybe one more rewrite, a little more attention to detail, some better pacing (I’m blaming the editing room, not the script, this time), maybe a few key personnel changes behind the camera (a really hotshot cinematographer would have done wonders here). On the other hand, it’s got one of the best soundtracks since Charles Pinion’s Twisted Issues, the three principals all turn in strong performances (Taylor is the best of the lot, which doesn’t surprise me; he’s got more experience than the other two combined), and Simon Rumley knows where to put a camera to make things work about as well as they can in any given scene. There’s a good deal to like about this movie; I just saw a lot of potential throughout that was almost—but not quite—realized. That does not mean you should not see this film. Quite the opposite. This is a good thriller that could have been top-notch. ***
[ed. note: expect some updates later. I have written, but not yet posted, a review of The Lost, and watched, but not yet written a review of, Creature.]
Not just the trailer… the OFFICIAL trailer!