Red, White & Blue * * *
Director: Simon Rumley.
Screenplay: Simon Rumley.
Starring: Noah Taylor, Amanda Fuller, Marc Senter, Jon Michael Davis, Patrick Crovo, Nick Holden, Mary Mathews.
I’m not a fan of unnecessary violence in movies but when it’s delivered in a psychological fashion like Michael Haneke’s “Funny Games” or possibly Shane Meadows’ “Dead Man’s Shoes” then I can certainly go with it and respect the skill of the filmmaker. This shares some similarities with those aforementioned films but ultimately became far too savage and obstinate for me to fully appreciate.
Erica (Amanda Fuller) is promiscuous Texan woman who has frequent, casual sexual relations with different men and completely indiscriminate in her choice of partners. One night she meets Iraqi Vet, Nate (Noah Taylor) and strikes up a genuine affection and friendship. However, Erica goes missing one day and Nate decides to look for her which uncovers some wrong doing and also brings out a sociopathic nature in the seemingly gentle Veteran.
A film of two halves: The first, slow and methodical as it builds the relationships between the characters. During this time, it’s filled with empty and loveless sexual encounters. It has a deliberate pace that may lose the interest of some viewers during this time. However, the second half of the film picks up the pace considerably and relentlessly. It’s filled with violence and retribution and falls into torture porn territory with a frighteningly realistic and ambiguous performance from Noah Taylor. It’s a shift in tone I wasn’t fully prepared for and, as a result, found it a little hard to stomach. This is saying something, as just days before, I had sat down to the dark and disturbing William Friedkin film “Killer Joe” and enjoyed it immensely. The content of that movie was was no picnic (in more ways than one) but this film outstripped even that in terms of it’s lasting and unsettling effect. If I had fully known what I was getting into with this, I’d probably have avoided it. That being said, I can’t fault the construction and skill of director Simon Rumley on his pervading sense of dread or commentary on modern America but the resultant material just isn’t for me. The most interesting aspect is seeing Noah Taylor flex his acting chops in a style that we’re unaccustomed to and proves that despite still being relatively undervalued, he’s a very fine actor.
A stark and uncompromising film that’s very well handled but when it’s disturbing and violent nature takes hold, the content is very tough going. Be aware, there’s a good chance this film will linger long after viewing it.