|Alex (Alex Karpovsky) in Red Flag.|
By Don Simpson
In Red Flag, writer-director Alex Karpovsky plays a somewhat fictionalized version of himself. His character, Alex, embarks upon a tour of the southern United States with his cinema verite mockumentary, Woodpecker. The trip immediately follows an emotionally tenuous break-up with his longterm girlfriend, Rachel (Caroline White). While I have no knowledge of Karpovsky's real romantic history, I do believe that Red Flag was mostly shot during an actual theatrical tour of Woodpecker. Taking his cue from the neo-realists, Karpovsky intersperses his fictional characters within real settings and among real people. Then again, this might be another elaborately staged ruse along the lines of Woodpecker – so, maybe it is all just fiction.
Karpovsky wrestles with concept of truth on the personal level as well. Alex has a tendency to lie and exaggerate; we can only assume that this -- along with his incredibly self-involved, head-up-his-ass attitude -- is why he has such a difficult time convincing any of his friends to join him on tour. In addition to his fear of marriage, we can only assume that Alex's ex-girlfriend has grown tired of the perpetual charade, never knowing when to believe Alex and not knowing how to deal with his overinflated ego.
Red Flag evolves into a road movie with two -- then three, then four -- lost souls traveling in the same car together. Rachel, Henry (Onur Tukel) and River (Jennifer Prediger) propel Alex along the course of his narrative arc, but they each have arcs of their own with which they must contend. Their goals are to determine what relationships and love mean to them while doing their best to avoid a life riddled with loneliness.