Every film I watch is a lesson about the ways film can tell stories and the human insight it has to offer.
Anne Norda’s Red Is the Color Of is a movie about how we strive to fill the empty spaces in human life with relationships, career and accomplishment.
The principal characters, Mary Shaw (Irina Björklund) and David Stellar (Peter Franzén) are a painter couple, each at different places in their careers. Mary, who paints with her own blood, is hot now. David suffers from painter’s block and is stuck painting realistic portraits of nudes in red hats that nobody wants. The disparity in their aspirations and statuses creates an uncomfortable space in their marriage.
Mary seems to talk too much. In reality, she is trying to vocalize the emotional struggles instead of channeling them into her paintings. David does the opposite, he stops talking and expresses himself through paintings around which no one can wrap their minds. They believe having children will automatically correct the situation, and they realize their illogic after their virtual child dies from a series of mishaps and their inept virtual parenting.
They discover their parental ineptitude as soon as their “child” dies, but emotional awakenings take a little longer. The catalysts come in the form of David’s model Julie (Eliza Pryor Nagel) and Mary’s obsessive copycat fan Fran (Carey DiPietro).
The performances are so convincing that I found the characters thoroughly contemptible. I forgot I was supposed to analyze performances, plot development and story arcs. The movie did an excellent job of pulling me in. When copyist Fran usurps Mary’s artistic status and David succumbs to Julie’s charms, the couple ultimately realizes their situation is unhealthy but not beyond a fix. Clarity and closure come when the audience stops judging these characters and realize that none of us could have handled the circumstances any better.
Red is the Color of is a layered story with rich and well-developed characters. They show us that in life we occasionally need to take a step back from ourselves and reevaluate so that we can move forward. The film also allows the viewer to come to his own conclusion instead of forcing him to swallow the sometimes pre-digested epiphanies offered in similarly themed studio pictures.