An entirely dialogue-free dramatic feature film, a visual poem following workers on a building site as their daily work and family lives become infused with their deepest memories, dreams, anxieties, and desires. Read on for our review of director Colin Hickey’s The Evening Redness In The South.
It has been a long time since I have seen a modern silent film, and what I noticed while I was watching Colin Hickey’s beautiful-looking movie is that the silence sort of turned my experience into a game. A game in which my eyes would scan the images looking for some sort of esoteric meaning to what I was seeing. Whether there was a meaning to every picture I was shown is unlikely as that would have been physically and emotionally draining for both an audience as well as the director but as a piece of cinema verity, The Evening Redness In The South will prove a hard act to follow.
An Irish film, The Evening Redness In The South focuses on the rural and urban aspects of a new Ireland, yet the techniques that Hickey uses gives us an ambitious sense of scope. Over his visuals, we hear a very classical soundtrack that includes strings, opera, and choir singers. It is an orchestral movement that feels like it spans a country. The music at first can be jarring as it doesn’t seem to fit the narrative that Hickey is trying to convey, however, once we relax and decide to go with the flow we realise the music is evoking memories of bygone times and places which in turn invokes a flood of emotion.
The soundtrack is epic and immediately involves us in the story. Along with the music, we also get to hear the sounds of their everyday activities that we find ourselves exploring. Noises from men on a building site, as they complete menial tasks such as filling a cement mixer, digging at the ground, and leveling the bricks. Who are these men? They could be anyone. The silence and the score allow us to fill in the blanks for ourselves. We can give them our own backstories, imagine what their lives might be like back home, it’s a successfully haunting way of giving an audience the responsibility of making their own decisions and coming up with their own ideas about the characters Hickey chooses to show us.
As I watched each picture flicker across the screen I was reminded of a number of different films. The opening scenes that take place on the building site are reminiscent of The industrial oil fields of Bob Rafelson’s and Jack Nicholson’s Five Easy Pieces. While every other frame is comparable to Terrence Malick’s visual style, especially when Hickey gives a shovel full of soil, a shadow of a child playing ball or a gravestone; all of which have just as much importance as the lines on the face of one of his actors in close up.
It’s difficult to classify The Evening Redness In The South other than Cinema Verite, it feels like a drama yet there is no drama, there are romantic moments but it is not a romance. It’s more like a mosaic, a slice of life with different pieces becoming different aspects. It is less a film and more a painting that with each brushed stroke takes you deeper into a world that at once feels close but also far away.
The Evening Redness In The South is a fascinating film whose imagery will stay with you and whose Director will go on to greater things.