Ah, Baltimore. The Inner Harbor, Camden Yards, Preakness, corrupt government officials, devastating crime rate, as well as a nasty STD epidemic to boot. You gotta love my hometown. But what Baltimore has in negative traits, it makes up for it with creativity. If you have caught HBO’s The Corner or The Wire, you see that Baltimore’s issues can make for captivating television. While Little Red isn’t on the level of these excellent shows, it does have a certain level of amateur charm …hat makes up for what it lacks.
Darrell Collins (Brandon Price) is an all around good kid. He eats dinner with his mother, shows up for school when others do not, and writes poetry. He also has a girlfriend, Angel (Char Clay), who is pulled into the drug game by her older brother as well as Darrell’s three other childhood friends. The more exposed they are to the benefits of selling drugs, the more greedy and violent they become, until Darrell decides that he’s seen too much and tries to pull Angel out before she gets in too deep.
OK, if you are expecting the high gloss sheen of urban movies like Baby Boy or Menace II Society, you have come to the wrong place. Little Red is very amateurish and grimy, which actually works at times because it accents the Baltimore landscape in which it takes place. I’m not sure Baltimore would look right under the glossy lens of John Singleton or The Hughes Brothers, because outside of a few parts of town, Baltimore is mostly bad news waiting to happen. So capturing the city on a gritty camera actually works. I can also tell you that the film is very accurate in its depiction of Baltimore City. The actors are obviously natives, which explains their accent, as well as references to people and locations.
The acting may surprise you. Brandon Price seems to have some experience reciting lines, as does Char Clay and some other minor characters, but a few characters are almost laughable because of the actor’s inexperience. The actors who succeed are able to give performances that are close to reality, though others fail because they are mugging when they deliver their lines. This is no doubt going to turn some people off, especially when they are used to seeing well known actors like Ice Cube and Tyrese in Hollywood produced features of the same genre.
The makers of Little Red either fronted the cost of the movie on their own, or received little financial backing, and for that, you have to appreciate what they put on film, whether you like the movie or not. I appreciate Little Red even more because it was made in my hometown of Baltimore, and holds true to the city’s charms and problems. Others may also enjoy the movie for its ambition, and amateurish feel. And hey, Baltimore is called Charm City after all.
As I said, this movie looks very gritty and grimy, and it fits right into the Baltimore landscape, so don’t fault the disc for that. After all, it was probably made for next to nothing. What is a little more disappointing is the movie’s 4:3 aspect ratio, which will leave owners of widescreen televisions frowning. Don’t expect to be wowed by anything visual.
Again, this is where the disc comes up short. The disc’s only audio option is a Dolby Digital 2.0 track that at times sounds like it is in mono. The surrounds receive little, if any work. There are relatively no lows to speak of, and most the action comes from the center channel. It would have been nice to see some work put into the soundtrack, since there are some guns being fired and some music played. If I were you, I would give the home theater a break and watch this one through your television. You won’t be missing anything.
Little Red has enough going for it which may leave people wanting to learn a little more about it, and the disc at least tries to satisfy curious viewers. The disc contains:
- The Original Short Film – Little Red was based on a poem by Darrell Collins, the main character in the movie, and here we have a 4 minute short film set to the spoken poem. It is a nice way to see how the movie came about and what was done to flesh out the poem into a feature length film. However, it comes across preachy and looks like a public service announcement.
- Trailer – The trailer is a nice example of how someone can take random scenes and put them together to make a captivating advertisement for a movie. My advice is to watch the trailer before viewing the movie to prepare yourself for the amateur feel and tone that Little Red embodies.
Hey, no one can knock ambition and creativity, and the makers of Little Red have plenty of that. What the disc lacks is anything resembling a nice picture or audio track, but if you can get past that, you may actually enjoy Little Red, which like some places in Baltimore is a diamond in the rough.
Special Features List
- Original Short Film