Red Road Movie 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!

Cast & Crew

Director : Andrea Arnold

Producer : Carrie Comerford, , Sisse Graum Jorgensen

Starring : , , Martin Compton,


Comments

Red Road Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: NR, 2006

Advertisement

Editors Recommendations

Why ‘The House of Magic’ Is The Movie To Go See This Weekend

If you’re looking for a cinematic treat for all the family this weekend, then...

Why ‘The House of Magic’ Is The Movie To Go See This Weekend

Here Comes Guardians of The Galaxy, A Huge Weekend in Store?

‘Guardians of The Galaxy’ hits cinemas next weekend with Marvel...

Here Comes Guardians of The Galaxy, A Huge Weekend in Store?

Bastille - Flaws [Live]

Bastille perform their 2012 single 'Flaws' live at The Troubadour in London to an enthusiastic crowd. The...

Bastille - Flaws [Live] Video

Colbie Caillat - Try Single Review

Colbie Caillat isn't known for producing 'trendy' pop songs of any kind, but she certainly always maintains...

Colbie Caillat - Try Single Review

'The Purge: Anarchy' Launches Another Grisly Franchise

Last year's sleeper hit The Purge was an unusually intelligent thriller starring Ethan Hawke as...

'The Purge: Anarchy' Launches Another Grisly Franchise

Nightcrawler Trailer

Lou Bloom is a hard-working budding journalist whose deep obsession with his career has rendered him...

Nightcrawler Trailer
Advertisement

'Joe' Is A Reminder That Nicolas Cage is a Great Actor

There are all kinds of theories about Nicolas Cage's acting style, usually centred on whether...

'Joe' Is A Reminder That Nicolas Cage is a Great Actor

Blunt, Mirren or Winslet? Who Will Win Best Actress Oscar 2015?

The biggest night in the film award circuit is still seven months away. But...

Blunt, Mirren or Winslet? Who Will Win Best Actress Oscar 2015?

Legendary Rocker Tom Petty Returns With New Album 'Hypnotic Eyes'

American rock legend Tom Petty reunites with backing band The Heartbreakers...

Legendary Rocker Tom Petty Returns With New Album 'Hypnotic Eyes'


More recommendations

Advertisement