I find it incredibly frustrating when I come across movies that play at movie festivals and it takes way too long for them to find their way to my neck of the woods or even to DVD in a decent amount of time. You build a certain level of hype when a movie gets good word of mouth then you have to wait and wait and wait to see it. I’m not exactly sure how long I waited to see RED WHITE & BLUE, but I do know it’s been too long. Simon Runley’s slow burn thriller really sneaks its way into your brain and then proceeds to have its way with you during the finale. The drama during the first 3/4 of the film really deepens the impact of the ending minutes. Take my word, if you were 100% on board with these characters the finale will be a deeply disturbing and troubling experience.
Erica (Amanda Fuller) is a young and troubled girl that cheapens herself by sleeping with every man that moves and never the same guy twice. She meets Nate (Noah Taylor) and he shows interest in her but not in a sexual manor and the two start a friendship. Things take a shocking and devastating turn when a previous sexual encounter with aspiring rocker, Franki (Marc Senter) comes back into her life. The three find their lives flying headfirst into a deadly collision as things spiral out of control.
The thing I love about good indie filmmaking is the way the films masterfully manipulate my perceptions and feelings. The truth is that through a majority of RED WHITE & BLUE I found myself actually pretty bored. The first hour or more of the film jumps around quite a bit and there just is not much going on as far as conflicts or action. What the film does do is take you deep into the character development and lets you get a good and clear perception of the characters before they hammer you at the end. The technique left me quite shaken by the end and it’s not because I was scared, but because of the emotional journey you are forced to endure in the end. If you make a connection with ANY of the three characters, the conclusion of RED WHITE & BLUE will leave a lasting impression.
Of the three main performances I believe that Noah Taylor stands as the star of the film. He knocks every scene he’s in out of the park and Amanda Fuller plays her character just as well but is not quite as scene grabbing as Taylor. The weakest of the three is Marc Senter and it’s not because he’s terrible, there are just moments I didn’t find him very believable and slightly awkward.
I’d also like to point out the music used at the beginning and the end of the film. The music choice gives the film a very clear and distinct old school horror vibe. The brief and deliberate notes really added to the tension of the last half hour, almost to the point where I was scared to move or blink and miss any single second of what was happening. With all the tension and horror of the finale it’s very easy to neglect the fact that a lot of the subtext to the film is very sad and tragic rather than cruel and mean spirited.
As for that ending; I hate to talk it up so much but in this case it really redeemed everything I didn’t like about the first hour. The events of the finale are disturbing and quite horrific, but in my opinion the film should not be considered horror. The majority of the film is full on drama and the end shifts it into more of a thriller with hints of horror. The violence is quite disturbing but at the same time, a majority of it happens out of camera view, minus one specific scene in the final minutes. The most disturbing thing about the finale is watching what happens to these characters you’ve connected with and no matter which one it is, it becomes somewhat hard to watch.
I was left floored by RED WHITE & BLUE despite all the problems I had towards the beginning. At first I thought the film completely lacked anything resembling focus and lots of scenes seemed to make no sense whatsoever. As I moved closer and closer to the end this sense of understanding, awe and dread just washed over me and I gained a whole new level of respect. I love a movie for challenging me and making me second guess myself and that’s exactly what RED WHITE & BLUE did. It took quite a while to shake the film from my brain and that’s another aspect I admire about it. RED WHITE & BLUE is a film I can confidently say is not for everyone but is a film that everyone should give a chance. This is the type of film that justifies my love for independent movies and why I love the art of cinema in general.