Film: Red White & Blue
UK Release date: 10th October 2011
Director: Simon Rumley
Starring: Amanda Fuller, Noah Taylor, Marc Senter, Nick Ashy Holden, Patrick Covo
Running time: 100 mins
Reviewer: Adam Wing
Erica (Amanda Fuller) is a whore. She drifts through life, emotionless and cold, filling the void (excuse the pun) of emptiness with meaningless sex and short-lived relationships. Her philosophy is simple, “Look, I don’t stay over, I don’t fall in love, and I don’t fuck the same guy twice”. Nate (Noah Taylor) is an Iraqi war veteran with psychotic tendencies. He spent his childhood torturing small animals, except for cats - he likes cats - they give him a way of disguising his lust for torment. Nate warms to Erica immediately, and even though Erica is initially suspicious, they strike up a platonic friendship that could never end well.
Franki (Marc Senter) is the member of a band, and like all musicians he dreams of making it big, but caring for his cancer stricken mother is more important than anything else in his life. He’s a little immature, but all in all he’s a well-intentioned guy, the sort of man who gets dumped by his girlfriend and still can’t bring himself to hate her. Wet… Franki is kind of wet. So you would expect to be rooting for Franki when the shit hits the fan, but Simon Rumley isn’t interested in right or wrong, his only interest is cold, hard revenge. A drunken encounter with Erica sets off a chain of events that will have horrific and terrifying consequences for everyone.
Don’t expect a happy ever after on this one; even the opening scene - which finds our reluctant heroine searching for one-night stands - is blessed with an edgy, disturbing score. Just like the movie itself, the sound design is fragmented, littered with off-key arrangements that do little to ease your anxiety, all the while suggesting dark and delirious times ahead. Despite being blessed with a convoluted role, Amanda Fuller brings heart and compassion to an unworthy character. Erica is a pitiless soul, with few redeeming qualities and very little self-respect, but Fuller’s performance evokes sympathy all the same. There are fleeting moments of humanity lost beneath the surface - her relationship with a neighbourhood child is well handled and the rationalisation of her actions is well told - but Erica remains the unlikeliest of screen heroines.
It’s difficult to know which individuals you should be rooting for, because several characters - despite their obvious flaws - don’t actually do a whole lot wrong. They just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Preconceptions of Franki are turned on their heads when Rumley changes direction and shifts his focus to him. He’s had a rough time up to this point, and cataclysmic events are provided with meaty explanation, but something about the performance or character lacks warmth. On the other hand, Noah Taylor’s rendition of Nate shouldn’t prove sympathetic at all. Not only are his creepy childhood tales inhospitable, but he’s also blessed with the kind of looks only a mother could love. Taylor’s performance however is exceptional, and part of you will be on his side come the cutthroat conclusion.
Despite the misery that Erica has heaped on everyone’s lives, Nate’s unflinching desire for revenge feels more worthwhile than Franki’s obsession with retribution, and even though the paths they walk are almost identical, Franki and his friends are painted as the bad guys of the piece. Or at least, they were in my head, but I guess that’s the beauty of the piece. It’s dangerous ground we walk on in Rumley’s world, one that’s sure to divide audiences the world over whilst providing plenty of uneasy talking points, but Rumley’s remorseless direction should never be faulted. Red White & Blue is an unnerving, uncompromising revenge thriller that revels in its morally ambiguous tone, and come the final act, a deeply disturbing finish that cuts loose with the (un)pleasantries and fulfils every slasher fans dream.
Cruel, captivating and utterly compelling, Red White & Blue is a startling little thriller that wallows in shades of grey, where nothing is black and white, and yet come the films sickening denouement, is all too happy to bring on the red stuff.