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Red Lantern

average rating is 3 out of 5


Chris Buick


Posted on:

May 12, 2024

Film Reviews
Red Lantern
Directed by:
Sangeetha Gowda
Written by:
Sangeetha Gowda, Marshall-Weishuai Yuan
Marshall-Weishuai Yuan, Sangeetha Gowda, Almitra Mavalvala, Malek Domköc

Red Lantern, written by and starring Sangeetha Gowda and Marshall-Weishuai Yuan and directed by the former, tells the story of Alex (Yuan), a young Asian actor-playwright battling nerves and self-doubt on the night of his big performance, contemplating whether the ongoing strained relationship with his increasingly absent father is worth following his ambitions.


Sacrifice is indeed the core idea of this film, and all creatives will know that to follow your passion, sometimes to the end of the earth it might seem, takes everything you have, seemingly more than you could possibly give at times. But the specific focus here is the extra struggle that those dreamers born of immigrant parents face in doing so, carrying the full weight of expectation from a family unit that has given up so much to allow their children's pursuit of those dreams.


Red Lantern is a film that focuses very much on evoking a real sense of feeling rather than laying out your typical story, and for the most part it works. That emotion that Gowda and Yuan look to make us feel is undoubtedly felt, Alex’s turmoil practically tangible in a measured but efficacious performance by Yuan that makes doubly sure of that. Cinematographer Ben Lawford ‘s astute framing choices play a key part too, leaving the camera to almost always sit in that up close and personal intimate space helps to really draw in its audience, which does mean the cast have nowhere to hide in their task to deliver the rest but thankfully, they do.


That sense of feeling only takes the film so far however, and when all is said and done, you can’t help but feel that we're still missing half the story, or that it's being told elsewhere. It is a testament to the film that it makes you feel that way, that there is a desire there in the aftermath to know more about Alex and his intriguing story, but while it’s all well and good to leave some things to the imagination, a bit too much is left to ponder here.


Still, its themes and purpose with them do come front and centre, and will no doubt serve as inspiration to all those setting out to chase and keep chasing their own dreams. Director Sangeetha Gowda hopes that “Red Lantern can re-inspire those creatives out there on the verge of giving up, remind them of that youthful fire for their dreams they may have lost over time, and motivate them to keep going because their dreams are worth something. We also never know who we might be encouraging”.


For me, Red Lantern should be able to do just that.

About the Film Critic
Chris Buick
Chris Buick
Short Film
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