Red Road

Red Road

On DVD: 
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Running Time: 
113 minutes

Director Andrea Arnold won BAFTA’s Most Promising Newcomer Award, and her film Red Road won 5 BAFTA Scotland Awards, and the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Is it really that good? I had a high expectation.

Jackie (Kate Dickie) is a woman of mystery, and she barely shows her emotion. One clear fact is that she is a CCTV surveillance camera operator in Glasgow, Scotland. Her job is to monitor people on the streets every day, and she notifies the authorities when she sees a crime or anything suspicious. Jackie eats, goes out, and comes home alone. She has casual sex with a married co-worker, but that’s pretty much it. She looks lonely and unhappy, but the audience won’t find out why just yet.

One day she spots a man on one of the cameras. First she follows him only through the cameras, but soon she actually starts to go after him. The man’s name is Clyde (Tony Curran), and he is an ex-con. There is no immediate explanation why Jackie follows Clyde. She becomes obsessed with Clyde. Why? Revenge? A love interest? Or is she just imagining him? Is she just stalking him? Who is the bad guy? Her snooping skill on the job is now her personal skill.

The camera (together with dozens of CCTV cameras) captures dark and shady streets of Glasgow and people’s lifestyles in a documentary manner, and it successfully creates an almost eerie atmosphere. Since there are not many dialogs and no background music in this film, facial expressions and body language become key elements. The last sex scene is very intense, almost pornographic, and the camera does some pretty amazing close-up shots.

I liked the basic concept of the film, and it certainly kept me guessing. Kate Dickie portrays the lonely and mysterious Jackie excellently. However, the story development was just too slow. I did not get to know Jackie’s motive even after half of the movie was over. I do like a thriller and suspense story that does not give away clues at the beginning. Red Road is such a movie, but giving away so little information is frustrating - who is he, what’s going on? Unfortunately, the movie does not give a satisfactory explanation or finale. If you are going to see Red Road, you may want to watch it twice to understand it fully.

Review by Pat Trabi