Red Dirt (2000)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB

USA, 2000Screenplay by Cinematography by Produced by Music by Production Design by Costume Design by Film Editing by Podcast: Bad Gay Movies

Griffith is a lonely young man who lives in a big Mississippi house with his eccentric (possibly mad) aunt (Karen Black), the monotony of his life broken up only by the time he spends with his cousin () who is madly in love with him. The appearance of a drifter () who rents the family’s empty cottage throws things into a frenzy when he makes a connection with Griffith, which inspires jealousy in cousin Emily and, eventually, brings out family secrets involving Black and Griffith’s dead mother. The southern gothic is laid on thick in this richly atmospheric but mostly incomprehensible melodrama that can never quite figure out how to set its stakes up properly, there’s a lot of explosive confrontations between characters who are determined to be dramatic without much reason, while the conflict between the two men, which purports to be about them working out their issues with their sexuality, is never properly explored. Black manages to give a graceful, bewitching performance despite the mess that is burning around her, director Tug Purvis wisely gives her a number of lengthy close-ups that reveal a master at her craft handling the material well, but it’s only fans of hers who will get anything slightly resembling a reward out of watching this odd misfire.

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