Mother’s Red Dress is the second film to come from duo writer/director Edgar Michael Bravo and producer John Paul Rice to feature a darkly themed, social issue storyline. Paul is a young man who witnesses his mother shooting and killing her boyfriend and it sets off a chain of events that force him to explore his murky past, and abusive relationship with his father.
Mother’s Red Dress is not always easy to watch, in fact some scenes are downright difficult (in part due to the subject matter, but occasionally due to pacing or acting choices), but the overall picture is compelling, if dark. Timothy Driscoll depicts Paul in a very quiet manner, almost underplaying the role, which is a plus for the complex and somewhat confused character whose home life and past trauma’s, that he doesn’t really remember, have had a measurable effect on his personality. Paul abruptly leaves home after witnessing the shooting, and almost as if in a daze he finds himself in some part of L.A., staying in a motel and inquiring at a local coffee shop about colleges.
This is where he meets Brenda (played by Amanda Reed) and closely after Ashley (Alexandra Swarens), Brenda is obviously initially interested in Paul but she gives up the instant Ashley turns up and it’s clear that Paul is more interested in her. Brenda’s character is almost as tragic as Paul’s, from being attacked by an abusive customer to her obvious attraction to Paul, self-loathing, and drinking problems, the viewer can’t help but feel a bit sorry for her – despite her sometimes highly obnoxious personality. Swaren’s and Reed do an admirable job filling the roles, but overall the acting is a little spotty with a preponderance of slowly delivered lines and pained looks meant to convey deepness of character. The stand out performance comes from Alisha Seaton as Paul’s mum Laura (wearer of the titular red dress) whose appearances on screen are always punctuated with violent emotion.
The main concern to raise against the film is the slowness with which is progresses, it’s definitely a slow thinking film rather than fast paced. The first half in particular is a bit of a slow haul. As the movie progresses, what is real and what has happened in regards to Paul, his mother, and his past, becomes less clear and then eventually resolves itself in the final act. The ‘big reveal’ and the ending are somewhat bleak, particularly for Paul, but the final moments try to pull it around into a hint of a positive ending. All in all Mother’s Red Dress is perhaps not the best film, it’s an indie movie whose complicated, if occasionally muddled, story of social issues builds a character study – it won’t be for everyone, but for those of you that enjoy cinema with an issue or element of realism then this will probably be worth checking out.