An astounding piece of cinema, Colin Hickey’s The Evening Redness in the South carefully carries you on a journey you never expected to take, a cinematic painting that stays with you.
An entirely dialogue-free dramatic feature film. A visual tone poem following several workers on a building site in County Cork as their daily work and family lives becomes infused with their deepest memories, dreams, anxieties and desires.
The Evening Redness in the South isn’t the type of film I have had a chance to review here on Upcoming On Screen yet. However it is the type of film I am all too aware of due to my personal background in art. Colin Hickey’s film is a beautiful 64-minute film that wouldn’t be unheard of to be seen in an art gallery and I say that not to be detrimental to fantastic work on offer here. Colin Hickey’s film has so many beautiful shots that they could be cut and placed on a wall. Luckily we have some here throughout the review to highlight that. Also, this is the type of film that wouldn’t feel out of place being shown in full in a gallery, but that could just be me wanting to see this with others who I know would concentrate and be invested in this. As no matter what The Evening Redness in the South is a work of art.
That is the beauty of the film, there is no black and white on what you should be thinking while watching it. Instead, it is firmly in the grey sticking with you in ways that you wouldn’t quite believe nor understand. Hickey has allowed his camera to do the work and capture what it see’s at that time. There are no apparent moments of “acting” from the cast, they are merely doing what they feel is right, and Hickey doesn’t seem to interrupt them as he films. Avante-Garde or cinema Verite filmmaking can sometimes be derided from audiences. Yet here, I am not sure you could try and add a forced narrative onto a film like this without tampering with its beauty. Everything feels natural here, and anything beyond that would ruin it.
As you would expect with such a film, The Evening Redness in the South is gloriously shot. On second viewing, some moments caused the pause button to be hit just to look at the beauty of the shot. Recently only Vitalina Varela has caused such action. The low angles continually point to the sky, and Hickey makes sure to capture some truly gorgeous images of sunsets or sunrises. Even during the day, the low angles continue as if everyone is waiting for something or someone to come down from above.
The music and lack of dialogue also free’s the film in a way that you could only understand if you saw it, as the diegetic scores lull in and out of the film. The background noises of the world in which these characters reside give the film life. Be it the sound of someone wadding into a lake with only the wind and the gentle splashes of her movements or the dull sounds of shovelling sand into a cement mixture as thuds ring out in the background; you have transported away for that moment.
The flowing score takes you away, and before you know it, 20 minutes have gone by in the film. By simply lifting you up and carrying you gently away into a calming rhythm, we are never jolted from our viewing experience, and that is a credit to the sound work, as it could have been all too easy to meddle.
In essence, that is the point of The Evening Redness in the South or is at least something that I take away from it. It is the feeling of things. Whether it be age, work, love, or life flowing naturally the way it should under gorgeous skies, with next to no interruptions. People carry on as they have for generations, the plants keep growing, and that sky keeps looking beautiful. A film with no dialogue or a central theme will have you exploring yourself as much as you explore the film. That is what makes films like Hickeys a requirement to be cherished and watched.
It is often said that certain films are made to be experienced in a cinema or on a big screen with an audience. Usually, they are loud action rousing features. However, some films need to be experienced in a group setting on a wonderfully large screen with top of the range speakers to fully take in what you are witnessing. The Evening Redness in the South is one of those films. It is a visually stunning piece that utilises sound mixing to its absolute best.
There will be better people who will be able to describe what happens in The Evening Redness in the South. But I cannot fathom trying to explain this to someone without simply uttering ‘just watch it, and you’ll understand’. This is a film to be experienced, and I honestly can’t wait until the day it is for broader audiences; it deserves to be seen.
The Evening Redness in the South is available to watch here.
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