Red Road

Red Road

****1/2

Reviewed by: Chris

The slowly unravelling character and background of a CCTV operator (Kate Dickie) forms the plot of this gripping, unsettling, low budget and yet very professionally made film.

Jackie's job is to watch the feed from closed circuit cameras, sited in the less desirable areas of Glasgow, which includes a street called Red Road, and liasing with the police to help track, or prevent, crime. She's a dour Scots lass, who gives little away, and we build up a picture in the first few varied and colourful short scenes of her working, social, sex and (at the edge) family life.

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She starts to follow an ex-con, whom she recognises on the cameras, eventually ingratiating herself into his confidence. We are kept in the dark for a long time concerning her motives and simply feel an insidious, creeping tension, as she takes so many risks. That we become so engrossed in what she is doing to is a credit to the skilful characterisation and acting.

This is one of those films where, if you want to feel the full impact, the less you know about the story the better. The title suggests a path of sexual danger that the protagonist feels she has to follow and the final denouement brings surprising emotional enlightenment. If you dislike independent filmmaking, or are averse to explicit sex, stay away. Otherwise make a beeline for one of the most original and capable films to come out of Scotland for a long time.

Although Red Road has been roundly praised, there is little substantive action for a long time and little of the obvious attention grabbers, such as violence and heavy petting. Although it has been directed on a tight leash, part of the credit goes to Lone Scherfig as collaborator, with whose background, particularly involving the Dogme 95 movement, there is a discernible connection.

The reliance is on character and, in working on the development of Red Road, Scherfig's influence shines through. We feel, just as we did in her Wilbur Wants To Kill Himself that the people have just walked off the streets of Glasgow, or are still walking there now. This sense of realism is in the same style as the first British Dogme film, Gypo, released about the same time as Red Road, and together they form a new mini movement in British cinema. Whatever the reasons, or antecedents, Red Road is a film of remarkable ingenuity, aimed at an intelligent adult audience, forming part of a project called Advance Party.

Scherfig and her collaborator, in accordance with the experiment, presented the fully-fledged characters to Andrea Arnold, who wrote a screenplay around them. The maverick wizard behind Advance Party is Lars von Trier, one of Dogme's originators, and in the hands of Oscar-winning director Arnold, we see art and new creative processes forcing their way into the heart of Britain's much-abused medium of cinema.

Reviewed on: 01 Nov 2006
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A psychological thriller from Glasgow's heart of darkness.
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Read more Red Road reviews:

Sam Moore *****
Angus Wolfe Murray ****1/2

Director: Andrea Arnold

Writer: Andrea Arnold

Starring: Kate Dickie, Tony Curran, Martin Compston, Nathalie Press, Andrew Armour, Paul Higgins

Year: 2006

Runtime: 113 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: UK/Denmark


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