The Austin Chronicle

SXSW Film Reviews

By Barry Johnson, March 16, 2001, Screens

red deer

D: Anthony Couture; with Amber Rothwell, James Hutson. (16mm, 105 min.)

Like The Sweet Hereafter, red deer is a meditative tale of loss and redemption that seeks answers in the unexplained events of everyday life. Unlike that film, however, red deer has limited visual appeal to sustain interest through the overabundance of silent moments. The cinematography is drab, the folksy score is distracting, and the characters never seem real. Instead, red deer comes across as an experiment of sorts, one which pushes the limits of method acting by placing unhappy characters in an unhappy setting (Canada -- surprise!) and filming the fireworks. Regrettably, the only spark comes from a brief moment of sexual tension between an introverted magician and his emotionally distressed muse. The remaining stories (book clerk longs to be heard as a poet; store clerk wants freedom from boyfriend) lack both exposition and character development, rendering their progression, minimal as it is, a bit tedious.

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