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In rural Pennsylvania, a teenage couple’s — James and Lizzy — relationship is interrupted by Aaron, the guy James almost hooked up with four months ago. Red explores being queer in conservative towns during hard times with empathy rather than disdain.
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This story is loosely based on my life growing up in the closet in rural Western Pennsylvania. Red centers on three teenagers around 2006: James, Aaron, and Lizzy. After a party, James stumbles away after a fight with his girlfriend Lizzy. Aaron heads after him in his truck. Their conversation gets personal and then intimate. Until a cop shows up, catching them in the act, which dramatically upends their entire lives.
After James and Aaron tried to hook up, Aaron falls deep into despair, but James retreats into himself. Lizzy is stuck having to figure everything out. All caught in the middle of society’s caustic slow moving progress to accept sexual identity.
This story takes place deep in rural America. For Aaron and James, much like myself, there was no such thing as coming out of a closet, this was an impossibility. Thus, the greatest of tragedies.
I’ve also read so many complaints about the alleged disjointed nature of the scenes, with the second half of the film being peppered with montages of nightmarish surrealist scenarios that George Dyer finds himself in. Well, weren’t these scenes part of the character that was Dyer? His insecurities and fears were imbued into the very fabric of his relationship with Bacon and ultimately led to his demise. No disjointedness there. Someone mentioned that Tilda Swinton is almost unrecognisable in this film–unrecognisable yes but brilliant none-the- less.
The film on the whole is less about the two protagonists’ lives and more about the nature of a relationship from the perspectives of the two people involved in it. Many found it shameful that Bacon’s influence was not shown more or just that one small episode in his life merited a biographical film. But that’s just it. This is not a biography. The title states: Red. A portrait, not The portrait. This is an episode which speaks simply about a relationship and the universality of the two perspectives that defined it. The only point of objection I had at the end was the fact that very few people had even heard of the film which is easily one of Daniel Craig’s best, not to mention Derek Jacobi.