Red, White & Blue (2010)

Directed By: Simon Rumley
Written By: Simon Rumley
Starring: Amanda Fuller
  Noah Taylor
  Marc Senter
  Jon Michael Davis
Red, White & Blue

Red, White & Blue is a striking, visceral experience that grabs the audience by the lapels, shakes vigorously and doesn’t let go. It’s a shocking film that’ll stay with you long after the credits roll.

Erica (Amanda Fuller) is an emotionaly numb loner, content to patrol the bars at night looking for anonymous sex. She has three rules; she doesn’t fall in love, she doesn’t do friends and she doesn’t sleep over. Nate (Noah Taylor) is a mysterious figure who claims to be an Iraqi war veteran with terrible secrets. Franki (Marc Senter) has the veneer of a bad boy and is content to bum around in low paying jobs while his band takes off, but is really a sensitive soul who just wants his ex-girlfriend back and to take care of his ailing Mum who is suffering from cancer. When these three people meet it leads to devastating consequences for everyone involved.

While working as a cleaner at a Bed & Breakfast in exchange for a room, Erica meets Nate and these two disparate people form a tentative but solid connection. When a one-night stand with Franki comes back to haunt Erica, Nate is forced to use his controversial skills to try and make things right.

To give too much more away would be to rob the film of the emotional impact in its final third and take away much of its shock factor. It is certainly a film that is out to shock, and boy does it do that in spades, but there is also a surprising amount of heart to be found and you may even find yourself empathising with these largely despicable people. To say that’s all on the directors shoulders is probably misleading. I’m sure that Simon Rumley shoulders a large portion of the credit here but the real kudos has to go to the actors making up this heavily dysfunctional trio.

Amanda Fuller is a force to be reckoned with. An unrecognisable face to most, she embraces her characters features and flaws and runs with them. At times you’ll want to strangle her for her sheer thoughtlessness and her hateful actions but at others you’ll want to shield her from the people who lead her to be such a broken person. I look forward to following her career if this performance is anything to go by. Noah Taylor has proven himself, time and time again, to be a wonderful actor with enormous range and depth. Sometimes short-changed with ‘character actor’ bit parts, he shines here and proves gentle and understanding but also utterly terrifying where necessary, and absolutely convincing throughout. Some might say that the slightly less seasoned Marc Senter is the weak link, and in terms of providing a truly memorable performance, that might well be the case as he’s probably not the character you’ll spend your days remembering once the film is over. That statement, whilst true, also does him something of a disservice though. On the back of his phenomenal lead turn in Jack Ketchum’s The Lost, he makes his character three dimensional and is just the right amount of obnoxious, frightened and unhinged when its required, giving Franki just enough pathos to make him sympathetic but also abhorrent.

There has been some controversy over the fact that Rumley, who is British, chose to name his film Red, White & Blue. This is clearly not a snapshot of everyday Americana and anyone accusing it of being such is way off the mark. There are rumours that the title is somewhat ironic, or that the colours each represent a pivotal character but I think its almost arbitrary. Yes, the film takes place in America, there are rich red and blue hues used amongst the, sometimes stunning, cinematography and yes, there are often American flags or American flag colours on screen. Do I think it means anything? Who cares. It’s a powerful film regardless.

Despite a slightly slow start, I was immediately engrossed but I can see how some people might argue that the pacing moves at a crawl. To me, this only made the conclusion more distressing and effective though as I was almost lulled into a false sense of security, despite the steadily mounting tension and prevalent air of unease.

Red, White & Blue is a flawed film but it’s also an important one. I’m not sure I could ever call it truly ‘entertaining’ as this suggests I gleaned some enjoyment from it. It’s more of a film that you watch and appreciate rather than enjoy. It is absolutely not going to be to everyones tastes, that part just isn’t even in question, but if you’re open to a character driven drama that will leaves your jaw on the floor, grateful that you don’t know any of these people in real life, then Red, White & Blue is an absolute must. Add it to your watch list.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★☆☆

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