Red Carpet: Review

Red Carpet: Review

Red Carpet: Review. By Will Steele.

Films like Sean Baker’s Tangerine have demonstrated how artistry shines through even on a shoestring budget. Here Scott Altman embarks on a similar small-budget affair on the streets of LA proving the true necessity of artistry when it comes to independent filmmaking by the sheer lack of it. We begin with beautiful landscape shots of LA which are sharply and swiftly juxtaposed by intrusive close-ups of our lead – Mandy played by Wittie Hughes – having her fortune read. Immediately we are treated to promising professional cinematography only for our hopes to be dashed by plain and uninspired photography which feels overwhelmingly amateur.

Refreshingly, the citizens of Los Angeles are initially portrayed as friendly albeit washed up and eccentric. The walk of fame emanating from Grauman’s Chinese theatre attracts a cavalcade of wannabes and has-beens: A setting rife for a tale of those seeking fame in Hollywood burdened with a tragic lack of talent. Mandy is awkwardly invited to a pool party in an exchange so clunky and poorly acted that it sets the tone for the rest of the film. The dialogue is abysmal – neither realistic nor punchy – delivered by performers ill-equipped to act to the level the film demands. By mere comparison Wittie Hughes stands out as a relatively capable performer who convincingly communicates the vulnerability of a young woman in search of fame and fortune. 

Soon the alluring prospect of excess tempts Mandy. She soon finds herself drinking copiously and dabbling in designer drugs. The intoxicating montage plays out like a fearsomely outdated anti-drugs commercial from the early 2000s presented with all the nuance of a direct punch to the face. Mandy awakes from the bleary night of clichéd debauchery to find herself a prisoner of a violent stranger intent on keeping her captive and forcing her into prostitution. The remainder of the film explores the bleak trials and tribulations of our protagonist.

You might sense this is a tragic narrative intent on revelling in the grim underworld of Los Angeles. However this is a path well-trodden leaving little for any audience to glean from these rote scenarios. Despite the gravity of the situation, any threat is undercut by tediously stereotypical characters, gruelling dialogue and seemingly no real direction at all. Any emotions Scott Altman demands through his direction and screenplay proves futile due to the constraints of an unoriginal and fruitless premise played out by unconvincing performers. 

Struggling to find praise, there is at least salvation in the merciful 79 minute runtime which excuses us from enduring any more of this dower affair. The struggles shown are real and have resonance with reality but any genuine engagement is squandered by an altogether uninspiring production. One cannot help but notice the irony of this film being produced by a company called Defunct Pictures. 

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