Directed by Gracie Otto and written by leading actress Krew Boylan, a realtor pursues a new career as a Dolly Parton impersonator. Also starring: Daniel Webber, Rose Byrne, Celeste Barber, Bobby Cannavale, Thomas Campbell, Todd Lasance and Jean Kittson.
It’s a universal experience to be a person who has more to offer but gets constantly put down and pigeonholed, waiting for their moment to break out and do something different. For Red (Krew Boylan) that something different is paying homage to the iconic Dolly Parton and she does it well. Boylan creates a quirky, energetic, committed and hopeful person for Red but at the same time she has her flaws and the film’s plot does a deep dive into them. It starts out very sweet and fun, tapping into a classic underdog vibe but eventually veers off into stranger territory. Therein lies a key issue with the film, its foundation of being true to yourself and trying to live up to your potential is a wonderful journey but it’s littered with odd details and tangents. At certain points it starts to hit an offbeat tone which doesn’t fit with the rest of the film and throws off the overall atmosphere.
One of the main examples of that is Rose Byrne’s EP, Byrne is always going to give a great performance but the inclusion of the character leaves a lot to be desired. There’s an interesting story of gender identity hiding beneath the surface but so little time is spent on it that it struggles to make an impact. Meaning that again it’s something that feels out of place, simply pushing the tone in a weird direction. Ultimately it does feel as though Krew Boylan was trying to explore something more significant and deeper with this story and the topics of gender and sexuality, but it can’t quite get a firm grasp on it. Part of that is it doesn’t feel self-aware of its odd elements, it doesn’t embrace that strangeness, so instead of being smoothly included and expanding the tone, it stands out.
Krew Boylan’s performance almost makes you want to call Seriously Red the 2020’s answer to Muriel’s Wedding, following a beloved, quirky character as she does everything she can to find happiness, just with less lying. It’s a performance which is only improved by stellar supporting performances, particularly from Thomas Campbell. He brings so much genuine emotion and kindness to his character and brings out the best in Red, he’s a big part of the film’s sweet air. Celeste Barber is also a good injection of fun. Daniel Webber may spend most of his performance impersonating Kenny Rogers but he sneaks some good moments in there.
Seriously Red has a great message about taking chances, going for what you want and not losing yourself in the process. Krew Boylan gives a wonderful performance as Red which is bursting with personality and vitality, and she’s got a superb supporting cast behind her. However, while it starts out strong, things get messy along the way, struggling to keep a consistent atmosphere and losing some of its initial sweetness. Although it’s still entertaining, colourful and unusual enough to make it worth watching, as well as being a love letter to Dolly Parton.