“Red Flag” is a significant film for its writer/director, Alex Karpovsky (HBO’s “Girls”). It shows us a talent with a personality we gravitate to. It’s not his “Annie Hall” but it’s a step in the right direction. There’s a scene with him concluding that all his problems stem from his fear of death which his a nice tip of the hat to the master. Karpovsky might not be begging for comparisons to Woody Allen but they are there and he seems to be up to the challenge. He gives us an honest take on being a self-absorbed rising comic/filmmaker with no time for anyone else but himself.
We begin with a break-up scene. Karpovsky’s exit is fairly cut and dry. He is literally rushing out the door of the house he shared demonstrating all the emotion one would have at being late for work. He’s supposed to take the dog with him but, in his haste, he can’t motivate the dog to join him so he promises to come back for him later. His lover, Rachel (Caroline White), can only stare out into the distance and fight back her tears.
Karpovsky’s alter-ego, Alex, knows how to keep a chilly distance. But, even for his character, that drive away finally gets to him and he cries. That is what Karpovsky does very well. He gives us a guy who knows how to keep his cool a little too well but, when emotions rise to the surface, can be as vulnerable as a little lamb.
Every true artist desires most to follow through, to evolve, to fulfill their destiny. In the course of this film, Alex claims he has gone from seeing just a few little stars in the sky to seeing whole constellations. He gets it. He knows what he wants. Or is he just saying that to get back into the good graces of his beautiful and charming girlfriend that he mistreated? Could it be that he was a jerk afraid of commitment and now he’ll say anything? This is more borrowing from the master, the character dealing with his idea that marriage equals death.
In order to cope with his break-up, Alex decides he should throw himself into his work. In his case, that just means not reneging on his two week tour to promote his independent film. It will take him through the South which might help jolt his East Coast perspective. But even this minor tour seems too much for him as he does his best to enlist anyone to join him. His frantic search for any form of companionship leads him to someone at the bottom of his list. Henry (Onur Tukel) is likable enough but seems to be a complete mess. When Alex greets him at the airport, his first reaction is to take him to the men’s room and shear off the long hairstyle he was experimenting with.
He listens to his half-baked concept for a children’s book and it’s enough to keep him amused. What we see of the film Alex is promoting is enough to keep us amused. Both stories within the bigger story help the characters in unexpected ways. This comes in handy once a third member is added to this madcap road trip. River (Jennifer Prediger) is delightful as the lonely groupie in search of love. And to put things over the top in complication, we have not heard the last from Rachel, the woman that Alex recently broke up with.
What will definitely add to the interest in this film is the fact that Karpovsky was actually committed to do a tour in the South to promote his film, “Woodpecker.” He didn’t like the prospect of being alone on the road, especially after his real life break-up, so he managed to turn what would have been a very depressing experience for him into this film. You would never have known there was a real “Woodpecker” tour simply from viewing this film as everything is very seamlessly put together to the credit of everyone involved.
Those little stars that Alex claims turn into whole constellations for him represent more than just figuring out a relationship. With any luck, Alex could figure it all out.
“Red Flag” is a laugh-out-loud road trip comedy worthy of your consideration. It becomes available on VOD starting Februrary 19 and goes into select theatrical release on February 22. You can also refer back to this previous post.