LA Film Fest 2012
By Don Simpson | June 23, 2012
Director: Alex Karpovsky
Writer: Alex Karpovsky
Starring: Alex Karpovsky, Jennifer Prediger, Onur Tukel, Caroline White, Keith Poulson, Dustin Guy Defa
In Red Flag, writer-director Alex Karpovsky plays a somewhat fictionalized version of himself. His character, Alex, embarks upon a tour of the southern United States with his cinema verite mockumentary, Woodpecker. The trip immediately follows an emotionally tenuous break-up with his longterm girlfriend, Rachel (Caroline White). While I have no knowledge of Karpovsky’s actual romantic life, I do believe that Red Flag was mostly shot during an actual theatrical tour of Woodpecker. Taking his cue from the neo-realists, Karpovsky intersperses his fictional characters within real settings and among real people. Then again, this might be another elaborately staged ruse along the lines of Woodpecker — maybe it really is all just fiction?
Karpovsky proves himself to be an adroit (to borrow an adjective from the film) filmmaker, as he wrestles with concepts of truth and fiction on multiple levels. Alex has a tendency to lie and exaggerate; we can only assume that this — along with his incredibly self-involved, head-up-his-ass attitude — is why he has such a difficult time convincing any of his friends to join him on tour. In addition to his fear of marriage, we can only assume that Alex’s ex-girlfriend has grown tired of the perpetual charade, never knowing when to believe Alex and not knowing how to deal with his overinflated ego.
Eventually, Red Flag evolves into a road movie with two — then three, then four — lost souls traveling in the same car together. Rachel, Henry (Onur Tukel) and River (Jennifer Prediger) propel Alex along the course of his narrative arc, but they each have arcs of their own with which they must contend. As they each wallow in their individual existential crises, their goals are to determine what relationships and love mean to them while doing their best to avoid a life riddled with loneliness.
Red Flag also deals a lot with perception. It relies heavily upon our unique perceptions of the characters, as different people are sure to react to Alex’s personality traits differently; but it also focuses on Alex’s opinions of romantic relationships and people in general. Karpovsky risks that his audience may accept his character’s personality as his own, but considering the spectrum of unlikeable characters he has portrayed in other filmmakers’ films, I suspect he is not too concerned about that.
(Check out my interview with Alex Karpovsky, Jennifer Prediger, Onur Tukel and Caroline White from Red Flag‘s premiere at the 2012 LA Film Fest.)