Jackie (Katie Dickie) works at a video-surveillance firm that is in charge of protecting people who live on a single block of Red Road in urban Glasgow. When she sees an ex-con (Tony Curran) from her past appear on her mon... more »itor, she is compelled to confront him for his crimes and begins to stalk him. What mysterious history do they share, and why is Jackie so determined to punish this man? Filmmaker Andrea Arnold keeps the audience guessing and the tension building as Red Road crescendos to an explosive finale.« less
"This is a first film by the director, Andrea Arnold, and the lead, Kate Dickie, and the first of an intended series by a group of Scottish film makers to be set around the same group of characters. I have no idea where it will go from here, but this film presents a complete picture, a circle of tragedy that closes.
This is the type of film where a story starts in the middle and progresses without any setup exposition, you have to figure out on your own where it's going. Sometimes films like this drive me crazy, but it works in spades here, particularly during a stunning sexual encounter where all you can think is, what the heck is this woman doing? Why is she letting this happen? There could be more than one answer, it could just be lonely lust, that possibility exists, and then . . . well, the answer is revealed, and while it was hinted at, there is no way to anticipate what happens, nor how it all turns out.
If you love film, you must see this, and support these individuals. Their instincts for what appears on the screen are spot on, and I look forward to their next effort. Two small warnings; the sex is graphic, and the Glasgow accents pretty thick, English subtitles are not necessarily out of place."
Roland E. Zwick | Valencia, Ca USA | 01/11/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Jackie may not have much of a life of her own, but she has found a way to live vicariously through the lives of others. As an employee of the city of Gloscow, Scotland, her job is to monitor the security cameras that have been strategically placed throughout the city and to report any suspicious activity or possible crimes she sees to the local authorities. For the most part, she keeps a respectful distance from those she's observing, contenting herself with following the course of their lives as a generally dispassionate observer. That all changes, however, when one night, much to her horror, she spots the man, who was recently convicted in the deaths of her husband and daughter, walking freely through the streets of the city, his sentence overturned on a technicality. Jackie decides that she must now take matters into her own hands to procure for herself and for her loved ones the justice the legal system has clearly denied them.
"Red Road" is a taut, tantalizing thriller that turns into a touching human drama in its closing stages. For most of the movie, Jackie is obsessed with exacting revenge on the man who destroyed her life. She follows him around, first through the various monitors that record his every public move, then in person as she literally stalks him through the streets of the city. It is at this point that Jackie crosses over the line from passive observer to active manipulator of events. At times, her obsession seems to take on an almost erotic tone, particularly after she makes personal contact with him several times, making this yet another forbidden line Jackie threatens to cross. Yet, the movie is much more than a mere tale of erotic obsession; it is a complex study of the stages a grieving soul must go through before it can finally let go of the past, confer forgiveness when forgiveness seems least possible, and achieve the peace it so achingly longs for.
Kate Dickie is both intense and poignant as the woman trying to come to terms with her overwhelming tragedy. In an intriguing example of the media becoming the message, director Andrea Arnold keeps her camera tightly focused on the character at all times, almost as if we, too, were watching Jackie's life as though through a monitor. Tony Curran is also very effective as the man who may not be quite as evil as Jackie has convinced herself that he is.
By holding her cards close to the vest, Arnold never reveals more of the mystery than we need to know at any given time. We don't always understand exactly what is going on or why Jackie acts in the way she does, but this ambiguity only heightens our desire to see the story through to the end. And that ending, when it comes, is a beautiful and richly rewarding one, as the movie takes us to a place we hadn't expected it to at any point prior to its arrival.
Two caveats may be in order, however, one fairly minor, the other quite major. The minor one is that the heavy Scottish accents make much of the dialogue virtually incomprehensible to those of us with more Western-oriented ears. Luckily, the filmmakers have headed off the problem by kindly providing subtitles for us. The more serious warning involves a graphic sex scene later on in the film in which the action is anything but simulated. Those easily offended by such activity had best be forewarned"
Robert Silverman | Vancouver, WA United States | 02/01/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are few films, not to speak of books (such as those written by Paul West), that focus on and reveal liminal space, or the "in-between." Red Road does this magnificently. The protagonist is a woman whose job is to watch cameras that provide surveillance around the city, to prevent and report crimes--and so she is a watcher of others rather than having agency herself. And there are moving episodes here, where she follows individuals with pets--with whom they have a relationship--and when she comes across one of these individuals with his dog, he and she look into a store window and have no relationship with each other.
There are a number of scenes where Kate Dickie, as the protagonist, is on the margins--at the wedding of her friend, for example. It is only at the end of the film that one has a glimpse of this pattern of liminality changing, when she stops to greet a man with his dog who are crossing the street.
The photography is marvelous, especially the early shots of the protagonist's face. While the face is beautiful in and of itself, the camera angles and the shading are stunning.
So to end where I began.... For those of us who have resonance with liminality, for those of us who live on the margins--however described, this is a film to watch.
Of Guilt and Forgiveness
_tMF | Europe | 01/01/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Tell me how it happened...I just want to know...please!"
After an incident that left both of them bewildered and shocked, Jackie (Kate Dickie) confronts Clyde (Tony Curran). Clyde is someone from Jackie's past, but just how he's connected to her is still unknown. She simply crossed the street and started shouting at him, and he looks surprised and a bit afraid of her.
Red Road is the astonishing and unforgettable story of Jackie, a CCTV operator who must confront her past in order to wake up from the stupor of her self-imposed isolation.
"The film is called RED ROAD because it's set in the Red Road flats,' explains Carrie Comerford, the film's producer. These flats are so recognizable that they have become a landmark in that part of Glasgow. But the film could have been made in any other city and Jackie's story would remain the same.
As one of the CCTV operators, it is here that Jackie works. Everyday she monitors dozens of screens that feed live footage from cameras installed in the city. Here she constantly observes and watches its inhabitants, amused by their idiosyncracies and in a way, knowing them by familiarity. There is the elderly man who regularly walks his dog at night, the lady cleaner who dances her way into the office building while listening to her Walkman, the prostitute who tries to make conversation with a potential client, the young men who revel in their drunkenness on their way up to the flats...
These seemingly nameless `strangers' are her constant companions. She knows them almost intimately, but they remain beyond her reach; she cannot talk to them or have them invite her for coffee. She watches silently, the cameras allowing her to observe them from a distance. Until one day, she sees someone, a man who has brought so much pain and sorrow. She watches him closely, wondering if she is not mistaken. Then she knows. She simply knows it is him. She decides its time to get closer and confront him.
What makes this film unique and memorable is the way the story is told. It has a deliberately slow pace and we see bits and pieces of various events - some are reminders of the past, and we learn that Jackie is a woman who has seen better days. Now she is isolated and alone, a choice she took upon herself. Although she has a family, we can feel the tension, for example when she attends her sister's wedding. As we follow her story, we learn that not everything is what it seems.
First-time director Andrea Arnold has created a film that is both powerful and poignant, hypnotic and mysterious. It is both a thriller and a modern take on noir. It's an exploration of guilt and despair and ultimately of letting go, probing into the unknown and the familiar. Red Road is a powerful story with an amazing and intelligent cast. The two lead actors, Kate Dickie and Tony Curran, are particularly good. Dickie is unforgettable as Jackie - she portrays a woman on the verge of despair, but one who remains defiant and gutsy as she faces her tormentor. Curran puts in a strong performance as a man who has made too many mistakes, but who wants to live a straight life.
The film won the Jury Prize at Cannes, and also garnered major awards at the BAFTAs. There is a certain beauty and honesty in Red Road, something that is so uncommon today."
Of Loss and Reparation
R. J MOSS | Alice Springs, Australia | 02/26/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A very impressive first outing for director, Andrea Arnold. Other reviewers have revealed the plot and the intrigue attending Jackie's(Kate Dickie)stalking through surveillance cameras of Clyde(Tony Curran), and eventual liason with him. The film is set in the grimy margins of Glasgow, where every fluttering leaf of activity caught on camera might arouse suspicion. So what is this lonely woman's obsession with Clyde? Arnold's gift of telling is remarkable. The ultra close-up framing of the leads' faces, the agile, hand-held camera made a tour de force by Lars Von Trier, effects our complicity in her quest for resolution. We are only a step behind her own awareness, her own motives, as she literally lays herself bare, sacrifices her dignity, to absolve the trauma that has frozen her. The sexual explicitness makes us feel her dilema and sympathise with Clyde's subsequent confusion.Someone said that the best thrillers burrow inward, and by the sheer power of cinematic observation make it hard for us to look away less we miss something. 'Red Road'is such a film."