Release Date – TBC, Cert – N/A, Run-time – 1 hour 50 minutes, Director – Dionne Edwards
Travis (Natey Jones) begins to explore his identity after being released from prison through secretly wearing a dress he buys for his partner (Alexandra Burke) for a musical audition.
As Travis (Natey Jones) looks at the shining red dress in the wardrobe you can see potential hints of his connection to the titular piece of clothing. While there may be hints you don’t entirely feel this connection despite Jones’ performance. Perhaps it’s because the film is less about the reactions to Travis and his exploration of identity more than himself. He’s been recently released from prison and is re-entering the world as a new man in different ways. He’s going straight and finds himself exploring his identity more through secretly donning a red dress he buys for his partner, Candice (a standout Alexandra Burke) for a big musical audition.
However, it’s not long until the private delves break out into the public sphere as Travis starts to display his transvestitism in the open world. There’s plenty of interest to be found in the way that he pushes himself further with the clothing and just how he behaves and puts himself across when most comfortable and expressive in what he wears. “I’m a bit crazy. I express myself differently… by wearing women’s clothes” he explains after stating “I just like being pretty sometimes… Maybe I’m just a bit different”. It’s a fairly matter-of-fact point that he simply wants to feel good in his own choice of clothing, a simply statement that the film makes clear as it goes on and the decisions of the central character begin to impact on his family.
Yet, while the core basis may be somewhat stripped back there are still plenty of details and elements to help push it across. The music playing in the background of some scenes adds to what may be in Travis’ head to simply add to his more confident strut down the street. Music makes for a big lift during some scenes, particularly those featuring Burke as she belts out Tina Turner tunes, going through the audition process to play the star in the musical about her. While as a whole there may be a fairly simplistic nature to the film and the way that it goes about itself it’s helped along and lifted by the way that it goes about these themes. The style and general attitude of the piece is generally light and enjoyable – having some self-acknowledging humour which never feels forced or derogatory.
While it might mean that there’s not necessarily a huge sense of ‘resolution’, or that the closing stages seem somewhat brief, there’s still a fairly likable air about things. It’s what helps the film along and keeps your engagement as the tone that feature debut writer-director Dionne Edwards appears to want to create comes through rather well and creates a lightness that engages you within a story that’s simply told well and in an effectively engaging manner. Once its points and focuses are laid out it’s rather smooth strutting from there.
Pretty Red Dress may take a bit to get across its focuses, but once it does things are clearly laid out and effectively used for a generally light, enjoyable and likable piece of work.