7.0/10
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3 user 7 critic

Redland (2009)

| Drama | June 2009 (USA)
As a family struggles to survive in rural isolation during the Great Depression, their daughter's secret affair begins a journey into the unknown.

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
Father
Lucy Adden ...
Mary-Ann
Sean Thomas ...
Job
...
Ma
Kathan Fors ...
Paul
Toben Seymour ...
Charlie Mills
Elena Bell ...
Russian Mother
Lacey Olson ...
Russian Daughter
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As a family struggles to survive in rural isolation during the Great Depression, their daughter's secret affair begins a journey into the unknown.

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Drama

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June 2009 (USA)  »

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$1,000,000 (estimated)
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(Fujicolor)

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2.35 : 1
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Movie Review: 'Redland'
1 April 2011 | by (LA Area) – See all my reviews

Redland, written and directed by Asiel Norton, takes place in rural America during the Great Depression, where a family of five—father, wife, two sons, and a daughter—are struggling to survive. Isolated from civilization, they are running out of food. The men of the family, along with another helper, venture out for wild game. Meanwhile, they discover that the daughter of the family, Mary-Ann (Lucy Adden) is having a secret affair.

This is very much an art film. The film has a disjointed narrative structure sprinkled with various imagery, color, close-up details, and intricate use of camera filters. They bring forth the mystical beauty of the forests as well as the dangers. The camera emphasizes an environment that is both dreamlike and alive, yet also reptilian and cold. Unusual filters are used, sometimes to an amazing effect, sometimes at the expense of the film's pacing, story, and clarity.

The extreme close-ups of small creatures and low angles are effectively framed, bringing great detail, parallels, and personality. The humans in the film, however, are somewhat given second priority. They are often fuzzy to make out and sometimes hard to distinguish from each other. Much like old photos, majority of the film uses sepia filters, sometimes overbearingly, muting out the color and detail. This is a double-edged sword as it brings out the stylistic tastes of the director, but also hides a good deal of visual narrative. Digital grain can also be seen in many of the dark scenes (a constant issue with digital film).

There isn't much story. It would probably best fit in a short film. Scenes occur, but they're often shrouded, fuzzy, or in extreme close-up. I found it frustrating. I often couldn't tell who was who or what was happening with all the feathering and filter effects. Voices often felt muffled and hard to distinguish. The film does accomplish in creating a constant sense of unease. For the less patient, it will seem monotonous, claustrophobic, and cold.

The characters are not deep. They are just part of the overall image, if you will, or the environment they inhabit. The dialogue is often generic, but the film does leave subtle clues here and there that can be read more deeply. I suppose the characters are more like symbols, whether they symbolize society, morality, and maybe the id.

I'm sure critics will love this film. It is that kind of film. It's layered, but frustrating. It creates reaction. It's a challenging film. This film will work for those who love open interpretations and less structure. Honestly, I do tend to see "overly artsy" films as a disguise for laziness, letting the audience do the work of projecting their own mental landscapes, if you will. I will agree, though, that this film is far from "lazy" and does great stuff with its budget and the director Asiel Norton is great with visual language. The beginning of the film says very much while showing very little.

Disturbing things do happen in the film, which likely will turn people off (which was probably the film's point). Even despite that, I couldn't get into the characters, and found myself distancing myself from them even more. I couldn't tell if I was supposed to sympathize with them or make fun of them. It is not what one would call an "entertaining" film. It's a real bleak film. The visuals are creative, but the pacing is maddening. One will either certainly like or dislike this film.

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