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Red Road - Review

Red Road

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Interview With Cast; Behind The Scenes; Trailer.

CRITICS were lining up to heap praise on Andrea Arnold’s intense psychological thriller Red Road following its debut at Cannes this year (where it won the Jury Prize).

But as hard-hitting and provocative as the subject matter undoubtedly is, it’s also a cold and occasionally seedy experience that’s very difficult to watch.

The film focuses on middle-aged widow Jackie (Kate Dickie), a CCTV surveillance operator in Glasgow who is still carrying the scars from a damaging episode in her not-so-distant past.

Estranged from her family and sexually unfulfilled, Jackie’s only moments of joy stem from the images she watches every day of people going about their lives.

But then she spots Clyde (Tony Curran) on one of her cameras and struggles to keep her emotions in check. Clive is fresh out of prison and living with a young couple on the Red Road estate, so Jackie begins following him to see what he’s doing.

Viewers aren’t allowed to know the connection between the two but are invited to watch as Jackie gradually gets closer to him and begins to flirt, even though it’s clear that he disgusts her.

To reveal too much more would be doing the film a disservice for much of its strength lies in its ability to keep you guessing.

But while undoubtedly intriguing, Red Road eventually charts such murky territory that viewers may emerge on the other side feeling more than a little unclean.

A graphic sex scene does little to help matters and feels unnecessarily explicit, while the motivations behind many of Jackie’s actions are difficult to understand.

Viewers are forced to ask some pretty tough questions about the nature of bereavement and female sexual desire that aren’t always satisfactorily answered.

While the downbeat resolution may well leave them feeling under whelmed and cold.

Red Road is designed as the first of a three-part experiment devised by its Scottish/Danish co-producers. It follows a Dogme-style approach to filming and is similar, in many ways, to films such as Hidden and the TV work of Jimmy McGovern.

Arnold lends proceedings a raw, gritty feel that marks her out as a very talented director and the performances of both Dickie and Curran are breathtakingly honest, stripped bare of any showy excess.

A deliberately slow pace also works overtime to keep you guessing while layering on the tension.

But the overall impression is that this is more a triumph of filmmaking technique than anything else. It has little to reward the audience on an emotional level.

Hence, it may well trouble and scar more people than it impresses such is the underlying sense of bleakness. As such, it’s a film to approach with caution for it’s certainly an acquired taste.

Certificate: 18
Running time: 1hr 57mins