37. Red Road (2006)

Let’s not go down that road

Directed by: Andrea Arnold
Written by: Andrea Arnold
Starring: Kate Dickie, Tony Curran and Martin Compston

What led me to Andrea Arnold’s Red Road was her beautifully composed Fish Tank which I reviewed with a 10 out of 10. My response to Red Road, however, wasn’t leave me as blindly infatuated as I was with her latest work, and I think this may have something to do with the fact that this driven thriller is a little grittier and darker than what one might expect. Having said that, Red Road is a visually profound and exciting work that deserves credit for Arnold’s deftness in direction, the flawless performances (of which Kate Dickie deserves mention) and provocative perspectives that compel you to keep watching. Had the narrative been up to this standard, it would have been a knock out.

Living on the edge: showing up to parties uninvited.

Jackie (Dickie) is a CCTV operator who gets an odd sense of joy from watching the quirky little day-to-day happenings in the city of Glasgow. But when she sees a certain man living in the Red Road apartments, her world is turned around – feeding an obsession where she cannot lose sight of him.

To say any more would give it away. Mind you, the twist isn’t all too shocking and isn’t really intended for that purpose anyway. What is more important, and more striking, is Arnold’s technique of telling a story through the most subtle hints and gestures,  inviting us to read and interpret the story for ourselves, rather than just having the actors belt it out in lines or obvious story arcs that we’re so used to in mainstream cinema. Instead, Arnold builds anticipation and tension through wonderfully dramatic moments that seem to compliment and co-operate in affecting us powerfully.

Just like Jackie’s own driven awareness and desires (which we’re clueless about until the very end of the film), Arnold uses CCTV footage, screens and aura-generating shots with a great sense of intent that is unpredictable and almost hidden from the calculating minds of the viewers. As a result, the depth and enticing intrigue of this film is incredible – even if the story ends up a little disappointing. But let’s not go down that road…


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