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

Trumbo Movie Review

Trumbo Movie Review

An entertaining film about sobering true events, this is the story of notorious screenwriter Dalton...

Goosebumps Movie Review

Goosebumps Movie Review

Mixing the action, comedy and horror from novelist R.L. Stein's books into a family-friendly package,...

Dad's Army Movie Review

Dad's Army Movie Review

The beloved 1970s British sit-com gets the big screen treatment, although there's been very little...

Spotlight Movie Review

Spotlight Movie Review

This film demonstrates that you don't need guns to make an exciting thriller. Based on...

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

Not the subtlest director working in Hollywood, Michael Bay brings his surging machismo to this...

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

There's nothing clever about this deliberately rude and vulgar comedy, but certain audiences will find...

The Big Short Movie Review

The Big Short Movie Review

Smart and snappy, this comedy is one of the scariest films of the year, using...

Advertisement
The 5th Wave Movie Review

The 5th Wave Movie Review

Also based on the first in a trilogy of post-apocalyptic teen novels, this thriller feels...

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart reteam for a sequel no one really asked for, following...

Room Movie Review

Room Movie Review

One of the most extraordinary films of the year, this drama cleverly weaves in events...

Creed Movie Review

Creed Movie Review

While this film is basically Rocky VII, it's also much more than that, and perhaps...

A Perfect Day Movie Review

A Perfect Day Movie Review

An irreverent comedy in the style of the original M.A.S.H., this wartime romp takes an...

Partisan Movie Review

Partisan Movie Review

With his feature debut, young Australian filmmaker Ariel Kleiman tells a creepy story about a...

The Revenant Movie Review

The Revenant Movie Review

A wrenching saga of survival and revenge, Alejandro G. Inarritu's new epic is just as...

The Hateful Eight Movie Review

The Hateful Eight Movie Review

Quentin Tarantino is a filmmaker who simply can't be ignored, especially when he lobs a...

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.