With the onslaught of consumer cameras increasing in quality and decreasing in price, more and more people are starting to jump into the world of cinema. One of the recent collection of wunderkind filmmakers within the indie film world is the team known best as No Restrictions Entertainment.
Following up their debut feature, One Hour Fantasy Girl, the pair of writer/director Edgar Michael Bravo and producer John Paul Rice are back with a new feature, with an equally enticing title. Mother’s Red Dress is the latest film from this burgeoning pair, and while it may not have the budget of those films hitting your megaplexes, it’s no less worth hunting down, and giving over your time to.
The film follows the story of a young man who, following yet another argument with his mother, decides to pick up, and ship out, starting a new life. With the hopes of leaving a tormented past behind, our lead not only finds a new life, but must deal with some old demons attempting to see the past take over once again.
You know, melodrama isn’t always a derogatory term. When done well, it not only works, but is some of the most potent filmmaking around. And this nears that. Timothy Driscoll stars as Paul, and is the physical manifestation of everything the performance side of this film stands for. No, these are not subtle, tight performances. Some line readings come off as dry and far too earnest for its own good. However, given the film’s structure, narrative and sense of style, the cartoonish melodrama works wonders here. Alexandra Swarens plays the romantic interest, and while she’s wholly watchable, her partner in crime, played by Amanda Reed, is almost unwatchable. The script does her character no service, as her character plays far more schizophrenic than one is able to truly believe, and the performance behind it isn’t that subtle either. Rounding out the cast here are Alisha Seaton and Jeff Davis, both of whom are great, but aren’t given enough to do on screen.
Visually, the film is Bravo’s best project yet. I found Fantasy Girl to be a revelatory piece of filmmaking, and this only cements him as one of the most interesting hyper-low-budget filmmakers around these parts. There is such an assured hand behind this filmmaking, that while some of the moments do play a bit too indie-precious, the film as a whole has a really singular and emotionally moving core. Obviously a small budget picture, Red Dress is a breath of fresh air for those fans of indies that are, a bit lower on the budget side of things.
And it’s also got one hell of a set of brains behind it. Best described as a sins-of-the-parents narrative, the film is a really intriguing story of how one’s past haunts lives no matter how intensely a person attempts to distance themselves from it. Toss in a heartbreaking abuse plotline, and you have a film that is both pertinent to cultural issues, as well as being beyond intriguing thematically. A film that will definitely be sparking a conversation or two between those who get a shot to see it, Mother’s Red Dress is at times uplifting, and at times absolutely gut wrenching. So is life.
Overall, this may not be a perfect film. The piece’s performances do lean towards the shrill side of the spectrum, and some of the creative choices feel a bit glib and out of place in such a melodramatic piece, but as a whole, this is the cream of the crop for small budget pieces. It’s thought provoking, well crafted, and featuring a fantastic score, Mother’s Red Dress is a film that any true-blue cinephile is required to give a shot.
The film is currently available on No Restriction Entertainment’s website.