As the prospect of living on other planets becomes increasingly closer to being a reality in real life, Red Rover explores the motivations and forces that can push people to explore new frontiers. While centered around a character attempting to earn his place on a mission to Mars, director Shane Belcourt never loses sight of the smaller unexplored frontiers — those places, people, and emotions that aren’t even thought of until stumbled upon or striven to attain. Often willing to revel in its sorrow and loneliness, Red Rover plays like an indie folk song, keeping all the sadness in check with an upbeat tempo and quirky moments of interaction.
The plot revolves around the lonely and heartbroken Damon (Kristian Bruun), who finds himself moving through his days with less and less desire to interact with the world around him. His career in geology only further exemplifies his distance from humans, as well his excitement for things that are known and consistent. He begins to find stability when he stumbles upon Phoebe (Cara Gee), a woman doing promotion for a trip to Mars by wearing an astronaut suit everywhere she goes. She gives Damon the motivation to try out for the Red Rover mission. It’s within that stability and the comfort Damon finds that Red Rover feels less like a movie about distancing ourselves from the current world, and more of a celebration of the joys that keep us grounded on Earth. It’s the tiny moments that can feel like exploring a new galaxy.
Many of those moments work because of Bruun’s performance, which fluctuates between hiding in his shell and finding happiness as he mirrors the exuberance of Cara Gee’s emoting. It’s the lonely moments that feel most at home in the film, however, especially when the score feels like we’re already in space. It’s a movie that finds the happy moments easier because it isn’t shy about conveying the distance and loneliness of its protagonist.
Red Rover still winds up feeling a bit too disaffected in its presentation, trapped in some indie romance pitfalls. It does, however, have plenty of entertaining character moments, as well as a significant depth to its exploration of human emotion. Sure, it’s the lonely introvert falling in love with the extroverted folk singer who pushes him out of his comfort zone — a story that has been done in many an indie film — but it’s the way it tackles the idea that gives the film more purpose than others which take on similar themes. There is enough heart and care in Red Rover that it will make you appreciate life on Earth.
Directed by Marc S. Grenier
Produced by Lee Faulkner
Written by Linda Cordeiro and Alisandra Rand
Starring William Baldwin, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe
Cinematography David Franco