SXSW REVIEW: “SERIOUSLY RED” (2022) Roadshow Films

Year: 2022
Runtime: 94 minutes
Director/Writer: Gracie Otto, Krew Boylan
Starring: Krew Boylan, Jean Kittson, Rose Byrne, Bobby Cannavale, Celeste Barber, Daniel Webber, Thomas Campbell
Review By: Peggy Marie

“It’s Hard to Be a Diamond in a Rhinestone World” – Dolly Parton

Director Gracie Otto makes a bold choice and opens her film “Seriously Red” (2022) with a terrific and unorthodox lead into to her main character, Raylene or Red” (Krew Boylan), as we come to know her. She captures her sitting in the bathtub while on a real estate client call, drinking a glass of wine with ice in it. The call reflects this perfectly, and it is the perfect introduction to a character and story that will take us down so many different roads of life as we watch, often predicting what will happen before we see it.

The aptly named Red – due to the gorgeous red hair she was born with, has been fixated on one celebrity in particular her whole life – Dolly Parton. The obsession rolls to the point of her going to her company awards banquet dressed as Dolly, which in turn leads to a karaoke performance one will not soon forget. But deep down, Red is a woman with low self-esteem, thanks in part sadly due to her mother Viv (Jean Kittson), whom she can’t seem to please. Red has pursued this, that and the other her whole life, while not being truly successful in any of them and can now add real estate to that list of things, as she gets fired. But within this crazy evening Red has discovered the world of impersonators, in no small thanks to a fantastic Elvis (Rose Byrne), and sets off to pursue her dream of becoming a Dolly Parton impersonator.

After meeting a talent scout named Teeth (Celeste Barber) who has a story about her own name that needs to be heard to be believed, the rest of story follows Red as she discovers this whole new world of messy artist impersonators. She goes full tilt when meeting Wilson (Bobby Cannavale), who himself was once a Neil Diamond impersonator, and still looks it. Red hits it hard going from a fair, homemade karaoke singer to actually fully immersing herself into Dolly, and not just the big wig, heavy make-up, and frilly costumes, but to some darned fine singing as well. She takes it one step further and falls in love with a Kenny Rogers impersonator named, if you want to believe him, Kenny (Daniel Webber). Losing herself completely though is costly and not just for the implants she gets, but for the loss of one of her truest childhood friends, Francis (Thomas Campbell), as he begins to question her losing any identity as her actual self.

But oh, this journey is fun at moments. It’s exciting, it’s hard, it’s sad and it’s so heartfelt as you really get a good look inside this entire world of impersonators. With it always being said celebrities have influence, you see just how it can be fun, but also how it can go completely overboard and overblown in someone’s life. The acting here is sublime by Boylan who hasn’t been seen much out of her home country of Australia and note is given here to the native lands and those who live on them by her as well. As well as acting, Boylan wrote the screenplay, got Rose Byrne to do an amazing Elvis, and Bobby Cannavale, while being the only American in the film, belts out an “I Am.. I Said” as Neil Diamond that will have you up and singing along.

At the end, Red will also reflect on her own life choices, learn to trust herself, and find her way through her crazy journey of life. “Seriously Red” is a story with heart and soul threading throughout it’s journey – it’s fun along with being an oh-so-charming watch. And remember to always, ALWAYS, “be yourself because everyone is taken.” – Dolly Parton

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