Red White & Blue

Laura's Review: B

Erica (Amanda Fuller) is a rootless twentysomething living in an Austin co-op, picking up a different man every night. Nate (Noah Taylor, "Shine") is another roomer, an Iraq war vet who may be a sociopath but who nonetheless takes an interest in the skittish Erica. When a local rocker, Franki (Marc Senter, "Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever"), whom Erica enjoyed a three-way with, comes back looking for her, Nate's protective urges become primal in "Red White & Blue." This oddly constructed film is told in three distinct parts, the first two of which feature static takes and a muted sound design. The first follows Erica as she has a series of meaningless sexual encounters to a disturbing degree and her slow acceptance of Nate's friendship, which she insists be platonic. The second, which at first seems like a random jump, follows Franki, a rocker potentially on the verge of a breakthrough, and the devoted son of Ellie (Sally Jackson, "Natural Born Killers") who is undergoing cancer treatment (Rumley's last film, "The Living and the Dead," involved a disturbed son attempting to care for a dying mother). These first two segments are edited in a disorienting manner, so that even though there is little sinister about them in and of themselves, a sense of dread develops. We see Franki in a different light than the guy who had sex with a stranger with his bandmates Alvin (Nick Ashy Holden) and Carl (Patrick Crovo), but the segment proves the weakest as Senter is thoroughly more convincing as a mama's boy than a rocker, a curly headed dweeb wearing a headband and long, dangling earrings. It is not until the film's halfway point that we realize what is going to bring these people together and things go down a very dark path. It may not have been writer/director Simon Rumley's intention, but what he has essentially done is another remake of "The Virgin Spring" with a decided twist. Amanda Fuller engages and gradually builds sympathy as the initially callous seeming Erica, but "Red White & Blue" is all about Noah Taylor's performance. He makes an early admittance to Erica that paints him as a budding serial killer, but his actions are all about helping her and concern for her. It's a fine line to walk and Taylor does it well. In the third act, which begins much like "The Strangers" ended, Taylor is what keeps us watching some pretty gruesome stuff (to his credit, Rumley keeps most of the violence off screen, but what he does allow is very shocking). The score (Richard Chester, "The Living and the Dead") which has been largely absent, becomes prominent, a dire warning on piano. Rumley appears to miss his film's natural ending, continuing on the road with Nate for what seems like meandering minutes. A phone call to a potential employer should provide closure, yet, once again, there is an odd sense of unease. "Red White & Blue" suffers from Senter's casting (and hair and wardrobe), but must be lauded for what it does right. This study of misplaced morality and misguided violence is nothing if not unique.

Robin has not finished his review of this film.

Robin's Review: NYR