Second chances are a central theme in this film. Alex (the character) is touring to promote his film about finding a bird that was thought to be extinct, thus giving the species a second chances to thrive and lawmakers a second chance to protect its habitat to prevent the bird’s extinction. Similarly, Alex wants a second chance at his relationship. When he’s not at screenings, he spends his time trying to come up with a script to explain to his ex how he’s changed and why she should come back to him. While he obviously hasn’t changed in any significant way in the week since they broke up, he tries to convince her, and himself, that he has. He gets so wrapped up in his ex, never even telling Henry that they’ve broken up, that he misses out on so many opportunities while on tour. First, he meets a fan of his, River, and sleeps with her thinking he can just walk away the next morning. Then, he has the chance to reconnect with Henry. Obviously, by agreeing to come on the trip, Henry is more than willing to try and rediscover the friendship they had in college, but Alex sees him as somewhat of a burden, though at least he appreciates having someone to distract him from his troubles. When River reappears, Henry falls for her, and Alex becomes stuck in a strange form of purgatory where he’s surrounded by people he doesn’t care for all because of his own behavior. Had he taken the time to get to know River, he may have fallen for her. For someone so interested in second chances, he seems to miss a lot of the obvious ones that present themselves, preferring to force his ex into giving him another chance.
The film builds a really funny atmosphere despite being as dark as it is. Alex is continuously pushed lower and lower, each time a little funnier than the last. There’s just something very funny about watching his life get worse as a result of all of his bad choices. It’s not like he’s a drug addict and that ruins his life, it’s more that he’s just kind of a dick to other people and that comes around to hurt him over and over again. A running joke involves him repeatedly being denied requests to check out of his hotel late, and it perfectly represents his life at that point. He continuously hopes that there can be exceptions to the rules that will benefit him, but there never are. He always needs just a little more time to do what he wants to do and become who he wants to be. Again, like in Girls, the unfair world just won’t make exceptions even for sad, whiney, entitled people.
I really enjoyed the film, although at times I felt myself losing interest. Like a lot of recent indie films (Tiny Furniture and Frances Ha come to mind), Red Flag seems to exist as a diary for a filmmaker who wants to complain about life but has no real hardships. I personally find this idea relatable, but also understand that it can come off as whiney and annoying to many others. I really enjoy Alex Karpovsky’s take on millennials, which takes a darker look into the generation than Lena Dunham but still manages to find humor in the situations. I look forward to seeing more of his work in the future.
Length: 83 minutes