I’ve tried to write an article on Red State many times. You’ll never see any of those because halfway through I would lose my point. The more I thought about the movie the less I knew how I felt about it.
I liked it to be sure, loved it even. As long as a person has a strong stomach and an open mind the movie is a high recommendation. But I cant reach an easy answer for why.
Its an excellent thinking movie. There is no end to the new thoughts and debates that can come out of a discussion of the film. Its transcendent in a way. Existing outside of film and yet within it at the same time.
Here is the simplest statement I’ve been able to get this movie down to: Everyone is either a hero or a villain at one point and that’s not the way things are “supposed” to work in film or in real life.
From the beginning, the kids seem like such one dimensional sex craving douche bags we almost wish they were dead. Get off my screen annoying characters I’ve seen on screen way too much! Then Melissa Leo comes in as Sara and she plays pathetic so well its impossible to not feel for her.
Then we have the next scene in where Smith brings us to the doorstep of terror with nothing more than Saran wrap, a blanket and a travel doggie carrier. The same children we were just apathetic towards are now the greatest protagonists in the history of film. The movie continues to switch the sides of good and evil, hate and sympathy, all the while keeping the characters true to themselves.
Yay, one of the teens got out but then he’s willing to let children die, boo! Every character takes the viewer along the same path. They are only hero or villain in relation to who they are opposite against on screen. Even Abin Cooper, while clearly the lead antagonist of this film, is compelling. Every word he says with such charm and presence. Not since Paradise Lost has there been a villain twisting the word of God to almost heroic proportions.
Sex jokes and standard two shots aside, the films of Kevin Smith that have had his full investment transcend a mere good or bad review. It may be ironic to use this comparison for a man who has had well publicized battles with his weight — but films like Red State are not candy. Nor are they soda or McDonald’s or whatever your cheaply made favorite high fructose corn syrup and meat puree food may be. Red State is a long cooked much slaved over rich meal of a movie. Its film with a smell. A smell that days weeks or months later will make you remember every minute in full color.