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Case Number 17918: Small Claims Court

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Redwoods

TLA Releasing // 2009 // 82 Minutes // Unrated
Reviewed by Judge Brett Cullum // December 16th, 2009

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All Rise...

Judge Brett Cullum would rather ogle the sexy trees.

The Charge

Love is worth the wait, but this flick is not.

The Case

Pretty scenery, one solid acting performance, and a unique idea can't save Redwoods from being an incoherent mess of a film that doesn't seem to go anywhere. The story begins with a gay couple named Everett (Brendan Bradley) and Miles (Tad Coughenour) who live in Northern California near tall old trees. They are not romantic with each other, but they're raising an autistic son together who seems to need both of them very much. Miles takes their child to visit his parents, and Everett while alone ends up meeting a lost writer (Matthew Montgomery) who tempts him to "take a risk." They have a severely misguided affair, and we see Everett engaging in a relationship that could ruin his entire life. Yet somehow we're supposed to root for him to end up with a drifter and leave behind a handicapped child and his partner of seven years? Redwoods is asking us to care about two people we didn't want to see together in the first place.

Small independent movies are not usually super polished and I easily forgive the flaws that seem almost inevitable, but this one is far more tattered than most and bugged me to no end. The film feels amateurish because of a half-baked script that addresses nothing completely, and leaves too many threads dangling. We wonder too much about what is happening and why we are watching any of this unfold. It's hard to believe in any of it, since we are not invested in any conclusion or character.

It doesn't help that leading man Brendan Bradley is not convincing as Everett. He is far too young to have been in a relationship for seven years. It's hard to imagine Everett settled down with his husband and an autistic kid while he was in high school or college. Also, in real life, the actor is straight and you can read his discomfort with every romantic scene from a mile away. He looks like he is kissing someone because there is a gun held to his head and not because he truly feels the passion. This is one "gay for pay" gig he should have skipped. What's funny is he might have worked better if he had traded roles and played the drifter, and Matthew Montgomery probably could have pulled off his part more easily.

There is a duo of saving graces here. The setting is breathtaking, and there are nice shots of large trees and California scenery. Matthew Montgomery in the drifter role does a great job making the most of his part, and he seems to anchor the film as much as he can. His costar may have as much personality as the trees around them, but the gay thespian comes across well despite the challenges. I liked the idea of meditating on what monogamy and happiness means, but I wish it had been examined in a more realistic way.

The DVD has a transfer that makes it look even more low budget with blanched out colors and hard to see details. Extras only include two botched takes which somehow get labeled a "Behind the Scenes" featurette, fourteen minutes of not so impressive deleted scenes, and a goofball interview with Matthew Montgomery that gives you no information other than where he's from and that he's a good sport. A photo gallery and trailer prove to be more interesting and better edited than the film itself.

I almost wished they had trashed the idea of producing this script completely, and just made a nice montage of handsome men skipping around in nature settings with the Redwoods as a backdrop. That probably would have been wiser than going ahead with making Redwoods with a leading man who is too young and straight to make us believe in the story of a tortured soul weighing happiness against responsibility.

The Verdict

Guilty of not seeing the forest for the trees, Redwoods feels lost but at least has nice scenery.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 50

Perp Profile

Studio: TLA Releasing
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 82 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Genres:
• Bad
• Drama
• Gay
• Independent
• Romance

Distinguishing Marks

• Deleted Scenes
• Featurette
• Interview
• Photo Gallery
• Trailer

Accomplices

• IMDb








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