SERIOUSLY RED

★★★

THIS DOLLY PARTON IMPERSONATION FILM IS NOT A WAY TO MAKE A LIVING

MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW
By Chris Dos Santos
11th August 2022

The world of celebrity impersonation is an interesting one to dive in. There are so many different reasons people get into it - their love for the artist, the money, or they're just good at it. The topic is very infrequently looked at on film, but director Gracie Otto ('The Last Impresario', TV's 'Bump') and writer/star Krew Boylan pull back the curtain on the world.

'Seriously Red' follows Raylene 'Red' (Boylan, 'Schapelle', TV's 'The Secrets She Keeps'), a ride or die Dolly Parton fan who has idolised her for a lifetime. When shows up to a work party dressed as Dolly Parton, it leads to the final nail in the coffin for both her boss at the real-estate company and herself, ending in her getting fired and quitting simultaneously. So begins her career as a Dolly Parton impersonator after being pressured by Teeth (Celeste Barber, TV's 'The Letdown', 'Back to the Outback') who owns an impersonation company. She rises to fame, and even teams up with a Kenny Rogers impersonator (Daniel Webber, TV's 'The Punisher', 'The Dirt') but as Dolly takes more and more over her life, Red struggles as she loses her identity.

'SERIOUSLY RED' TRAILER

'Seriously Red' never quite lives up to its Dolly Parton stamp of approval. Her voice is in the whole film, with quotes frequently appearing as well as, of course, her music. The film seems to just piggyback off these things and thinks that will do all the work, but forgets to back any of Parton's voice with kind characters and an engaging narrative.

Red as a protagonist has the setup for a very engaging character arc but is pretty unredeemable; even before the claim to fame and her redemption storyline, it doesn't feel as earned as it should be. Because of how unlikeable she is, it's hard to jump into the world and take the journey, though there is fun to be had here with the likes of Rose Byrne ('Spy', 'Bridesmaids') as Elvis, and hearing Dolly Parton music in a theatre is always delightful, but it never all comes together. The grand idea and what the film is actually selling never join up - and that's a shame, because there is a good self-discovery film buried deep below the blonde wigs and big bosoms.

'Seriously Red' never quite lives up to its Dolly Parton stamp of approval.

'Seriously Red' offers an engaging idea but often gets lost in its narrative, going for humour over heart. A journey of self-discovery through the lens of not only celebrity impersonation but a Dolly Parton impersonator could have been an impactful film, but as it stands it's a mediocre one that wouldn't even cut it for Snatch Game on 'RuPaul's Drag Race'.

(Hands down, the best bit of the film was a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo that is just genius.)

Looking for more Melbourne International Film Festival reviews? Click here to check out our collection of this year's highlights.
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