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The Red Robin (2013)

 -  Drama | Thriller  -  28 April 2014 (USA)
7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 39 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 6 critic

A family reunion goes awry when the oldest son makes the accusation that his dying father, a famed psychiatrist who also did work for the CIA, adopted his children for the purposes of psychological experimentation.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Dr. Nathaniel Shellner
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Tommy Shellner
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Harry
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Julie
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Lillian
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Leonard Shellner
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Sasha
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Sylvia
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Sergeant Joseph Robbins
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Young Tommy
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Elizabeth Robbins
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Young Julie Shellner
John Havel ...
Young Harry
Ish Singh ...
Child #2 Playing
Ishi Singh ...
Child in Pictures
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A family reunion goes awry when the oldest son makes the accusation that his dying father, a famed psychiatrist who also did work for the CIA, adopted his children for the purposes of psychological experimentation.

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Taglines:

Thriller/family drama

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

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Release Date:

28 April 2014 (USA)  »

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Budget:

$1,000,000 (estimated)
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2.35 : 1
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User Reviews

 
Psychological thriller about a retired government psychiatrist who may or may not have harmed his children for "the greater good."
14 January 2014 | by (Texas) – See all my reviews

Film Review: The Red Robin - in my last, more lengthy review, I mentioned the halcyon days of high school.

Now, let me jump a few years ahead to the good ol' days of college at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, where I classed (with many talented people. Almost everyone was creative, a few were good technicians, and even fewer were those who truly understood drama.

Michael Wechsler, who directed THE RED ROBIN ("TRR"), was one of the very few who got it all.

Wechsler's NYU short thesis film - about a mentally ill man - was decently crafted, especially for a twenty-year-old's first student film, shot on 16 mm, and edited on a Steenbeck (which is not a slight - it just is what it is). The beauty of this short was the fact that it was well aware of its dramatic center, which most films - student or not - are not.

Now - fast forward twenty years to 2010. I'm out of the film business, having lost touch with Mike for a long time. When we re-connect on FB, I learn that he had written and directed a feature film - TRR - and I was delighted to be invited to a screening of a working cut.

As some of you know, I'm notorious for walking out of films early. I often literally leave a theater before the titles end if I don't think they are well done. Why? Because to me, everything - even titles - are symptomatic of the care or lack thereof that went into making the film. And if I don't think the filmmaker cared enough to create good titles, I'm out.

The reason I bring up this point is because I felt so much care went into TRR, that even if I didn't like the film, I would have stayed the whole way through, simply out of respect for the good craftsmanship that went into making it.

But I did like TRR - a lot. I was "in" for the whole ride.

I was so full of pride that my ol' pal finally got to make a feature - and not just any feature, but a damn good one at that - a feature Michael wrote and directed himself (and starring the venerable Judd Hirsch).

It's been two years since I've seen it and I wish I had the good fortune of seeing the final cut. So, I can't (and don't even want to) comment on the details of the plot, and reference the fine crew and cast. So here's the skinny - the direction is self-assured; the editing, seamless; cinematography, rich and beautiful; the musical composition (done my childhood and NYU pal, Ed Choi) is perfect; and the acting all around is 100% believable, 100% of the time (every supporting actor holds their own when in or not in the presence of the charismatic and ultra-experienced Hirsch, which no easy task).

Now, let me comment on the most important part - the script. As Mike had commented on FB earlier this evening - actors should thank writers for their success, for without a good script, they would have nothing. Taking that a step further, anyone who has ever been entertained by anything an actor, director, or cinematographer et al. has ever done should thank a writer.

TRR is a psychological thriller, which, like Mike's student film, is ultimately about MIND and REALITY - how one influences the other. But TRR is his debut as a mature, experienced, filmmaker.

The script unfolds slowly but surely, revealing just enough (but never more than needed) to keep us on our toes. One minute, we are convinced "the big secret" is in our minds; the next, that it's reality, and the next, that it's back only in our minds, which is much more upsetting and interesting than having a guy jump out at us with an ax (or hockey stick… inside joke, folks) for a cheap thrill.

I'm not mentioning what the big question is - you'll have to watch the movie to find out - but it's an intriguing one that, like THE MATRIX, is disturbing on many levels, and has implications far beyond the hour and a half of being in the theater. In fact, a friend of my friend (who's a conspiracy "nut"), couldn't stop talking about it for months, and, in fact, still references the movie two years later.

Oh wait - in my recent review of the THE HOBBIT - I was on a rant about evil. To make a long story short, Mike understands how to portray evil. Evil is only truly powerful when we identify with it. And boy - what a job Mike does with this subject. By the end, I wasn't even sure who I wanted to root for - or what aspect of who I wanted to root for. This is truly scary - when we lose ourselves in what is "right" and "wrong." At any rate, on a personal note, back in the day, Michael's great achievement would have filled me with great envy. But now, I'm too old for petty feelings like that. Now, I only feel pride - knowing that my ol' bud has succeeded where - oh so many have not.

Kudos, Mike.


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