In “Riddle of Fire,” director Weston Razooli stages an adventure tale revolving around a hunt for a spotted egg


Presented at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2023, at the Filmmakers’ Fortnight, The Sweet East, by Sean Price Williams, and Riddle of Fire, by Weston Razooli, came to announce to us the newfound vitality of American independent cinema. Without consulting each other, the two films rub shoulders with the magic of the tale. Alice in Wonderland for the first, while Riddle of Fire attempts a childish adventure that would have encountered the codes of a heroic fantasy game: three kids, drunk in their free time, organize to steal a games console stored in a warehouse.

But the family television is locked by a password that the convalescing mother refuses to divulge. Unless we bring her the blueberry pie she loves. But that day the pastry chef is not there. You will therefore have to make it yourself: the trio goes in search of a spotted egg, an essential ingredient for said tart.

Riddle of Fire is entirely built around this hunt for the egg which will lead the three kids into a series of coincidences and improbable encounters, notably with a group of neo-hippies (ultimately more hipsters than anything else) who find themselves in possession of the precious ingredient .

A video game universe

In its setting, the film offers the sweet dizziness of a truant fiction that is invented before our eyes, ruminating on the references without first being reduced to them: we think of Quentin Tarantino; has Stand by Me (1986), by Rob Reiner; to Goonies (1985), by Richard Donner; has The hunter’s night (1955), by Charles Laughton; and to an entire video game universe that the film has the good idea of ​​using as an aesthetic reference but which ends up reducing the narration to a pure surface without depth or childlike terror.

Continued until the end, the quest for the egg turns out to be too limited an issue to last long, soon transforming the film into a marked program: the poetic license runs dry, the young actors seem to enjoy a freedom under constraint.

Under the plotted weeds, Riddle of Fire finally reveals a pretty object indie a little too harmless, torn between two contradictory intentions: leaving the keys to the film to the kids while overplaying, behind their backs, the unusual authorial gesture.

American film by Weston Razooli. With Lio Tipton, Charles Halford, Weston Razooli (1h54).

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