2007, NR, 113 min. Directed by Andrea Arnold. Starring Kate Dickie, Tony Curran, Martin Compston, Nathalie Press, Andrew Armour, Paul Higgins.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., June 15, 2007
Jackie (Dickie) cuts a compelling figure. A Glaswegian woman who is seemingly indifferent to her own angular beauty, Jackie reveals little of what goes on in her head. We watch for nearly two hours as her often inscrutable actions steadily accumulate into a passionate explosion and release. A psychological thriller, Red Road takes its time building to its revelations and demands that we follow patiently. Jackie works for City Eye, an adjunct to the Glasgow Police Department that uses cameras fixed throughout the city to protect its citizens against crimes and suspicious activities. Each shift, Jackie watches a bank of TV monitors, trolling for any untoward activity in her zone in a ritual that is contradictorily aloof and intimate. She wears a wedding band but goes home to an empty apartment every night and has a sexual tryst with the same co-worker once every two weeks. Her routine begins to come slowly undone after she chances to spy on her monitor a man she recognizes from the past. Increasingly obsessed with this man, Clyde Henderson (Curran), Jackie begins to furtively follow him and neglect her work. The nature of her obsession is unclear, and Clyde's inability to recall who she is adds to the mystery. Red Road's steady voyeurism builds to a provocative climax and cleansing denouement in which the answers to all our questions become apparent. The Scottish filmmaker Arnold, who received an Oscar for her short film "Wasp," makes a memorable debut here as a director of feature films, creating tension and mystery against a drab backdrop of quotidian Glasgow. Red Road actually came into being through the Advance Party, an offshoot of Dogma 95 that commissioned three films from different writers and directors that must use the same four characters in all three films. Red Road is the first of this group of films, and it seems a hard one to top. As Jackie, Scottish TV actress Dickie makes a strong impression, with much the same bearing and appearance as Tilda Swinton. In addition to receiving a host of British film awards, Red Road was also awarded the Jury Prize at Cannes in 2006. For its U.S. release, the film is shown with English subtitles to help with our comprehension of the thick Scottish accents. It should also be noted that Red Road contains one extremely graphic sex scene. But like much else that transpires in Red Road, what is seen is not always what it looks like on the surface. AFS@Dobie