Friday, 9 September 2011

Red State, dir/wr. Kevin Smith, st. Michael Parks, John Goodman, Melissa Leo, Kevin Pollack

There's a moment in Red State, not so much Kevin Smith's love letter to the Westboro Baptist Church, as it is a strongly worded letter of complaint, where the real-life bile-filled Church and its leader, Fred Phelps, is mentioned by name; it's a startling moment and just one of a number of times when we find the rug being pulled from under us. At times Kevin Smith's extraordinary film could cut in scenes from Louis Theroux' famous documentary and the flow would be seamless, at other times we're in pure Lynchian territory, adrift from any genre anchors, and wonderfully terrified of where its all going and what its all leading up to. Michael Parks taps the odious yet, let's face it, rather rich Phelpsian source material in his portrayal of Pastor Abin Cooper and Melissa Leo reminds me of how one critic described Monica Dolan's performance as Rose West in the recent Appropriate Adult: "seemingly possessed" is how they put it. John Goodman turns in another pleasing heavyweight performance and blink, or rather, wink and you'll miss Kevin Pollack in a role much of which I suspect was left on the cutting room floor. The film's rather Grand Guignol resa dei conti climax might be a bridge too far, but nevertheless, Red State hopefully points to an exciting new direction for Kevin Smith fans.