Red Dirt

Writer-director Tag Purvis hails from Meridian, Mississippi, and his debut feature, a Faulknerian tale of family secrets, simmering anger, and repressed sexual desires, vividly captures the drowsy desolation of the Deep South. Griffith (Dan Montgomery), a morose young man who was orphaned as a child, longs to go west but feels tied down by his cousin and lover (Aleksa Palladino) and his invalid aunt (Karen Black playing a stock Tennessee Williams neurotic). An itinerant worker who's renting the family cottage (Walton Goggins) tantalizes him with the possibility of escape and homoerotic fulfillment, but gradually he realizes how attached he is to the women. Purvis is best known as an installation artist, yet his script is well observed, with terse evasions between the men and flowery dialogue between the women. His stately evocation of a time and place fostering inertia and regret reminded me of Days of Heaven, while the landscape cinematography self-consciously references Corot and Wyeth. 111 min.

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