Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A ROTTEN TOMATO: Redlands


If you weren't already aware, there's a bustling movement of underground indie cinema, producing films that you never hear about. One of these is John Brian King's "Redlands", a dark drama released earlier this year. This contained narrative uses a small cast with 3 main characters and is unlike anything you'll see in the multiplexes.

The story begins by introducing us to Vienna - Nicole Fox, of "America's Next Top Model" fame - as she records one of her frequent vlogs. She appears to be a cheerful girl with aspirations of becoming a model. Everything seems normal at first until we see her at her first photo shoot. It turns out that she wants to be a "glamour" model, posing nude for amateur photographer Allan (Clifford Morts), much to the chagrin of her boyfriend Zack. He protests intermittently, but he benefits too much from her earnings (to fund his music career) to seriously object. It's plain to see however, that there's something fishy about the whole situation (the photographer doesn't even have professional equipment), but Vienna's too naive to realize it. As Vienna develops a close work relationship with Allan, the plot slowly ambles down its increasingly dark path.

"Slow" is indeed the key word to describe this film. If there's one thing you'll take away from this viewing, it's the value of a good editor. Sadly, this film was sadly lacking in that department. It's filled with so many agonizingly long, uninteresting scenes that it almost becomes unbearable. The script is just so underdeveloped that you can feel the actors straining to make it work.

It's a shame really, as the characters have some amusing traits that could have been put to good use with a better script. Vienna is naive and slightly delusional, Zack has a vulgar, dirty mouth and Allan is an insensitive sociopath. Of the trio, only Vienna and Allan get any true character development, though the resolutions of their individual character arcs are less than satisfying. Zack meanwhile turns out be completely inessential to the plot. Still, based on the way the characters are written, I think the premise could have worked well as your standard dark comedy. Unfortunately, it tries to be a provocative art film but it just doesn't have the goods (it's way too dialogue-heavy for that).

There are glimmers of a quality film throughout "Redlands" (humourous dialogue, intriguing characters) but these are few and far between. I really wanted to get on board with it, but this foray into micro-budget filmmaking left me drifting. Perhaps you'll manage to get more out of it than I did. "Redlands" is now available on Vimeo On Demand and Amazon Instant Video.

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