Fantasia 2010: Red White and Blue

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Red White and Blue
Directed by Simon Rumley

Movies rarely open with more promise, nor fizzle out more disappointingly, than Simon Rumley’s Red White and Blue. A bizarre, intermittently effective movie that suffers from a surplus of characters, ideas and outlandish plot elements, Blue is the rare film that simultaneously exhibits serious talent and poor decision-making in almost equal measure.

The film’s first act is by far its best. It primarily concerns Erica (Amanda Fuller), a sex addict who routinely sleeps with at least one new partner every night, if not several. She just barely scrapes by until she gets a job offer from a neighbor, Nate (The Proposition‘s Noah Taylor), who seems to want to take her under his wing, despite her pleas of wanting to shun all serious human connection. He  treats her kindly despite her pointed negativity and even gets her a job. Before long, she’s screwing everyone but him, which tests the boundaries of their friendship. A third main character, Franki (Marc Senter), re-emerges after having been briefly glimpsed in a foursome early in the film, and his story takes the film in a different direction entirely.

The film slowly begins to reveal some very questionable plot decisions soon after Franki’s emergence as the third piece of the puzzle, particularly with regards to Rumley’s characters’ complex, tortured backstories. Where just one of these loaded ideas might have sufficed to produce the film’s would-be “shocking” resolution with a few more drafts, the combined effect of all three principals’ character details is far too much for one film to endure without losing a fair chunk of its plausibility.

This is all too bad, because the careful, measured restraint with which Rumley reveals these unfortunate particulars suggests that Rumley could very well produce a brilliant film. The opening act is replete with well-executed sequences that communicate a lot through wordless images, and the individual scenes display a keen sense of atmosphere and the maintenance of intrigue. It also showcases two fine performances, courtest of Fuller and Taylor, who imbue their overburdened characters with real humanity. The same cannot be said for Senter, whose Franki is prone to unfortunate bouts of melodrama and generally clashes with the film’s previously carefully maintained tone. It’s a problematic performance that handily sums up the movie’s crippling identity crisis. Here’s hoping Rumley does better, because Blue frequently suggests he can,

Simon Howell

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