Being a fan of Kevin Smith is often like being his friend. We like what he does, but we also like him. We have a deep investment in him as a human being we don’t have in other filmmakers or podcasters. His openness with us, how much he brings us into his heart, is a key part of why we have remained loyal to him for so many years. In the past Kevin has even referred to his overall career as “the conversation.” It’s apropos because friendships often feel like epic, multi-part conversations that continue through the years. We first met Kevin through CLERKS, and with each of his projects the friendship has grown, the conversation has taken on more nuance and become more interesting.
But have you ever had a friendship that has spanned many years? It’s a friendship that’s always made you laugh, put a smile on your face, made you feel good about yourself and made the tough moments in life a little more bearable? Then one day, your friend confides in you? They let the shield of pride or machismo or whatever drop and you suddenly see a side of your friend you never knew was there? A side that not only makes you re-evaluate your friend but also makes you excited to get to know them all over again?
That’s RED STATE.
Everything Kevin has said about RED STATE is true. But there’s so much more to it that he’s never touched on, and it relates directly to “the conversation.” All of Kevin’s previous movies have taken an honest, believable look at whatever issues each has explored. Each one of them has embodied a positive, optimistic perspective that maintains a strong faith in the inherent decency of people. That aspect of Kevin’s point of view is still present in RED STATE, but suddenly the conversation has grown more complicated. The conversation gets real. Kevin has opened up as he never has before. Yes, he shares his views with us on a daily basis, but he is not an ideologue. He is a normal human being wrestling with the same conflicting emotions that pull us all in opposite directions every day. It’s fitting that RED STATE has been released in these increasingly nihilistic times. Do we live by our principles to our last breath or do the ends justify corrupting ourselves? Should we offer forgiveness or indulge our rage? We are all emotional creatures who miraculously possess the capacity for reason. By which measure should we govern our lives? And if the goal is to balance the two, how do we do so?
Every character in RED STATE has to answer those questions through the course of the movie. But fictional characters are lucky. Their lives end when the credits roll. Ours continue on for who knows how long with no answers in sight. The good news is, hopefully, we get to ponder those questions in the company of intelligent, compassionate friends. Kevin Smith is one of those friends and, as RED STATE proves, he’ll always keep the conversation lively and memorable.