The beautiful model Vienna is doing a series of nude photography sessions with amateur photographer Allan, a middle-aged man who just discovered the arts. Her boyfriend, a rude, misogynistic musician, doesn't like Allan but Vienna is really enjoying the art they make. Vienna's new partnership is the beginning of the crash of their lives.
Title designer John Brian King is taking a leap into the director's game with his feature film "Redlands", something which quickly has me wonder why he hasn't directed more (and hoping that he will). Having worked on the title art for movies like "Punch-Drunk Love", "Magnolia" and "Boogie Nights", it's interesting to see that "Redlands" plays like a mix of them all. He's either making title art for films/filmmakers he genuinely enjoys, or this is an interesting coincidence. "Redlands" is easily missed out among all other arthouse dramas, but hopefully my review will make a few of you consider watching it.
Three artist's fates collide when Allan, a middle-aged divorced man, starts taking nude photographes of lovely model and vlogger Vienna. Vienna's boyfriend, Zack, a real scumbag of a musician, drives her to the photo sessions and adds extra cost for Allan, but is quickly out of his way after dropping her off. Allan's trying to learn the art, as Vienna is his first model, but she really enjoys and respects what his artistic eye is putting out. This bothers Zack, yet he doesn't really cherish their relationship considering what a horrible person he is, and he's the first and only of the two to cheat on the other. Allan's a quiet, lonely man who is struggling after the divorce, which he is trying to get through with the photography, but it's proving to be a hard thing to get through and ends up destroying what he built up with Vienna.
It's hard to go into details about "Redlands" other than the main setup. That's fine, too, because most of the movie plays around that - it doesn't stand still but it doesn't stray far from it. What keeps "Redlands" as intriguing as it is, is how realistically awkward it gets at times. Sometimes the awkward character meetings are comedic and sometimes they're brutally dark. Outside of Vienna, it's hard to know what to think of the characters. There's always a feeling that something is kept a secret, something deceitful is going on. This certainly adds to giving an intense atmosphere even if scenes where one isn't present. I should mention that the movie does go to very dark places and ends in a disturbing arthouse-exploitation extravaganza.
They all do amazing jobs with the characters. With real life model Nicole Fox as Vienna it's easy to accept her as a professional model who is enjoying the experimenting middle-aged photographer. There are plenty of sexually intense photo session scenes with a fully nude Nicole Fox and Clifford Morts playing the nervous and curious but also excited Allan perfectly in contrast with her confidence. Sam Brittan's Zack is a misogynistic creep so we instantly hate him, so I guess that proves he did his job in the role as well! Considering how long the takes in the movie were, they're nothing short of excellent in their roles. The dialogues are long and the scenes often develop further than where they started out. It's a testament to both the people behind and in front of the camera that the movie worked as well as it did. Not once did it feel stale even though the movie is often shot from static camera shots.
"Redlands" is a slow, uncomfortable movie that I thoroughly enjoyed. It's not an easy watch, it gets quite weird and disturbing at times, but everything is played off in a way that's never over-the-top. The characters are awkward and sympathetic in the most realistic of ways. This is the kind of drama that scares me more than horror movies. I encourage you to give this movie a shot, and let us all hope that John Brian King continues down the same path.