Red Road

"Excellent"

Red Road Review


It's a sign of the times that in a film like Andrea Arnold's Red Road, the presence of omnipresent CCTV cameras which spiderweb Glasgow, are controlled from a central command called City Eye, and can peek into practically every corner of the city, is barely remarked upon. This is not a film that is going to waste time maundering about the implications of ubiquity of surveillance in 21st century life (especially in the British Isles, which has a particular fetish for filming their citizens at all times); instead it's just one more sad detail of the characters' shabby, limited lives in a shabby and limited world. Technology without progress, knowledge without wisdom, security without safety.

For all the watching going on in Red Road, there is precious little safety -- in fact one of the tropes that writer/director Arnold (in an extremely impressive feature debut) insistently returns to is the resolute unsafety of these people's worlds, no matter how much technology surrounds them. Arnold's protagonist is Jackie (the fantastically affecting Kate Dickie) a bracingly cold and shut-off woman who works at the City Eye, controlling a bank of cameras with a joystick, occasionally zooming on something menacing or just plain out of the ordinary, watching. Her contact with the human race is limited practically to these TV screens, having shut herself off from her parents and seemingly keeping no friends; the only relationship with any regularity we see is a functional and depressing affair carried on with a married man occasionally in his van. Arnold sinks viewers deep into Jackie's self-induced loneliness, letting out only the faintest hints about what tragedy has pushed her into this suffocating state (Was there a husband? A daughter?), before Jackie sees a man's face on the camera one day which she remembers from her past.

At this point, Red Road shifts swiftly from a coolly appreciative voyeur's take on a voyeur's life to something more unnerving. Jackie starts obsessively tracking the movements of the man, all of which we know about him is that he's recently out of jail (where he may have been put for a crime that had something to do with Jackie) and now living in a grim towering block of council flats. Quickly, Jackie moves from watching him on camera to following him in person, quietly circling this prey who seems dangerous enough to be well left alone. With an unwavering precision, Arnold tracks Jackie's steady and mystifying progress toward the man -- played with a dangerous bonhomie by Tony Curran -- in a quiet but none-too-stealthy manner, as though seeking her own annihilation at the hands of this ginger-haired stranger with a secret to unleash, and maybe even set her free.

Though possessed of a certain modern lo-fi thriller mindset, with its stark mise-en-scene and handheld camerawork, Arnold's work has a thrilling rawness that's really more akin to Ken Loach than Hitchcock (one of her many superb stars, the puckish Martin Compston, starred in Loach's Sweet Sixteen). Red Road is a film so dedicated to its workaday Glaswegian roots that the English subtitles which appear seem at first to be a joke (could their accents be that thick?) are quickly clung to like a life line (yes, indeed they are that thick). There's no obvious, touristy totems of Scottishness; but for the accents, the average outsider could believe the action to be taking place in any working-class British Isles city. Perhaps that's the point: the eyes in the sky, bleak housing towers and people clinging roughly to each other for no good reason but to stave away the loneliness; this could be anywhere and so feels like nowhere. It's the people who are specific and real -- punishingly so.

She's on a road to somewhere... maybe Edinburgh!



Red Road

Facts and Figures

Run time: 113 mins

In Theaters: Friday 27th October 2006

Box Office Worldwide: $1.1M

Distributed by: Tartan USA

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 88%
Fresh: 76 Rotten: 10

IMDB: 6.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Andrea Arnold

Producer: Carrie Comerford, , Sisse Graum Jorgensen

Starring: as Jackie, as Clyde Henderson, as Stevie, as April, Paul Higgins as Avery

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.