Red Road
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir-scr Andrea Arnold
with Kate Dickie, Tony Curran, Martin Compston, Nathalie Press, Paul Higgins, Andrew Armour, Carolyn Calder, John Comerford, Jessica Angus, Martin McCardie, Martin O'Neill, Cora Bissett
release UK 27.Oct.06, US 13.Apr.07
06/UK Sigma 1h54

Breath of fresh air: Press, Compston and Dickie

curran compston press

London Film Fest

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Red Road Another of those gimmicky Danish things, this is the first of a trilogy called The Advance Party, featuring a group of characters created by filmmakers Lone Sherfig and Anders Thomas Jensen. It's a strong story--involving and moving and probably a little too long.

Jackie (Dickie) works in a CCTV centre, watching as people go about their business in Glasgow. She has a few favourites, like the guy (Comerford) with his aging bulldog or the woman (Calder) who cleans offices at night. Soon Jackie becomes obsessed with a man (Curran) who seems to lurk on the fringe of society. Is he a dealer? A womaniser? An ex-con? Jackie starts stalking him, worming herself into his life, crashing his parties, meeting his friends (Compston and Press). And what she discovers is surprising for all the wrong reasons.

The entire story cleverly shifts as we learn more about each of the characters. And we learn rather a lot. But the film is finely focussed on Jackie, Dardenne-style; we see everything through her eyes, including each misstep she takes. It's a bracingly intimate, almost hyper-real performance by Dickie. And it's matched by authentic, layered performances from the entire cast. We really do sense that each has an entire life all their own.

Which is precisely the point. This is a sharp, bravely shocking film that dares to cross lines, mainly in areas of voyeurism, grief and harsh sexual politics. Arnold's filmmaking style is fluid and enticing, involving and unsettling. She lets the characters life their lives around the film's edges, which vividly recreates the buzz of urban life. And the plot draws us in with tantalising mysteries, eerie revelations and scary tension.

Because it's so low-key and observational, the film sags in its mid-section, feeling repetitive and unfocussed. It picks up again, but it would be a much more compelling experience with about 20 minutes edited out. Even as is, it's a thoroughly involving experience that keeps us guessing--is it about sexual longing, revenge or how we can fatally misjudge each other? Or all these and more? Whatever, it's primal, raw, dangerous and emotionally invigorating.

cert 18 themes, language, strong sexuality 14.Aug.06

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Red Road RMJ, Toronto: 3/5 "When I saw Anthony Minghella's Breaking and Entering, I had to think pretty hard to remember the plot. The characters, yes -- they stick in the mind. But what was all that about? For some reason the fox made an impression on me. Maybe because there's also an intrusive fox (off screen) in Red Road, a far superior film about human alienation from Glasgow, with no stars in it at all and an almost unbearably tight and utterly gripping script." (26.Sep.06)
2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall