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Red Lights [Celluloid Hero]


Red Lights (2012)

Robert De Niro is one of my all-time favorite actors. In recent years he’s made some questionable choices in an attempt to become a comedic actor, but for “Red Lights” he returns to a dramatic role, and brings an excellent presence to what is something of an “indie” film.

Sigourney Weaver & Cillian Murphy play to two college professors. Their research is devoted to debunking and exposing fake psychics. They take down those who pray on the hopes of their believers. There’s a philosophical debate wedged in, regarding what harm these fake psychics are doing. If you or a loved one was ill, would you want a supposed psychic to “heal” you? On one hand, they’re not doing any actual medical work, but on the other, can the placebo effect work just as well? Weaver & Murphy are both staunch opponents on the placebos.

De Niro plays Simon Silver, a world-famous blind psychic. In the past he claimed to be able to read minds, bend spoons, heal the sick, and even levitate. A tragic occurrence at his show led him to retire for thirty years. His comeback is a media event, and he actually volunteers to be studied by the team of professors.

There is a lot going on in this movie, and director Rodrigo Cortés ramps things up to a frenetic and chaotic climax. Cortés obviously did his research, studying the technique of fake psychics as well as paranormal researchers, and the methods they use to expose fakes.

My problem surrounds the ending. There is an interesting twist (that I won’t reveal) that involves flashing back to earlier points in the movie, but those flash-backs actually took away from what I had just watched. I’m not entirely sure how I would have ended the movie myself, but I felt like it went on just a few minutes too long, and could have worked better without the final explanation


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On the [Celluloid Hero] scale, “Red Lights” gets a 6 out of 10.

[Each week, Varacchi explores cinema from his own perspective. From indie to foreign to mainstream, he’ll watch it all. Suggestions and recommendations are welcome, leave a comment below. CLICK HERE for the Celluloid Hero archives]

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