Red Rover (2020)

Red Rover is an indie rom-com that questions the motivations behind one’s passion to enlist on the Mars One Project—and about the infection of wanderlust; everyone here is fear and loathing in Toronto, bumbling about as errant Huckleberry Finns. And Red Rover accomplishes that goal without any Passengers SFX pretentions, so Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt fans need to hit the emergency escape hatch button: this is not the film for you. For Red Rover isn’t a movie about exploring the frontiers of outer space, but the frontiers of one’s inner space. Yes, exploration is essential to human survival. But it’s not the exploration itself that’s the problem, but where we explore.

Philosophers Nikolai Gogol and Johann Wolfgang von Gothe expounded on man’s failed, perpetual quests for satisfaction: there’s always that one, elusive desire that weighs us down like Prometheus to a rock. For man is always searching for something else, something better; so busy looking down into our foolish, electronic devices that we never see the answer right in front us. We never realize that, while we may not have everything we want, we always have everything we need: each other. And it’s as easy as lifting our face and lighting another’s world with a smile. (There’s no reference to either writer in the film or any “electronic subtext”; that’s my interpretation of the material.)

And in Damon’s case, the answers, the happiness he aches for, don’t lie 33 million miles away, but right here on Earth.

Damon (Kristian Bruun of NBC-TV’s Departure and BBC America’s Orphan Black) is an ordinary average guy; a lonely, unemployed geologist dumped on by his report-stealing jerk of a boss and a heartless ex-girlfriend. To fill the emptiness, Damon putters around the beach with his metal detector.

It’s there that he meets Phoebe (Cara Gee of the SyFy Channel’s The Expanse and Harrison Ford’s recent film, Call of the Wild), a bohemian musician handing out promotional flyers—while wearing an astronaut suit, complete with helmet—for a reality TV series that will chronicle the Red Rover Project to Mars.

And with his life swirling in the past, and with Phoebe’s extroverted passion, Damon’s going for it. And he passes the application process. And the final interview process for the mission becomes a catalyst for turning his life around, as Damon gives an inspiring speech about exploring the unknown for the right reasons; on how we, as humans, can only grow by not wallowing in the past. And he soon realizes he doesn’t need to go to Mars to accomplish man’s prime directive: be truly you.

Shane Belcourt developed his writing and directing career with a series of shorts and feature documentaries. Discovering his background, in conjunction with watching Red Rover, his feature film debut, I couldn’t help but think of the similar career trajectory of William Eubanks: Belcourt has that same eye; the same passion.

Director William Eubank’s first two, under-the-radar films, the low-budget science fiction dramas Love (2011) and The Signal (2014), rightfully received worldwide critical acclaim for their ingenuity on a tight budget. And 20th Century Fox took notice and handed him the director reins of Underwater. And I have no doubt the major studios will be knocking on Belcourt’s escape hatch sometime soon, for he has an equally bright future as a storyteller.

Red Rover makes its DVD, PPV, and VOD premiere on May 12. You can learn more at the film’s official website and Facebook page. Speaking of indie filmmakers, especially of the not-easy-to-shoot-on-no-budget sci-fi genre, I invite you to discover the low-budget gems Space Trucker Bruce by Anton Doiron and Robert Goodrich’s Ares 11.

About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

Disclaimer: This movie was sent to us by its PR department. As always: you know that has nothing to do with our feelings on the movie.

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