Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Red Road (2006)

Clyde (Tony Curran): Do you know what I wonder about you?
Jackie (Kate Dickie): What?
Clyde: How your cunt taste like.

At a glance: After a riveting first half, Red Road is diminished somewhat by its credibility-stretching finale, and can tax with its Glasgow accents, but first-time director Andrea Arnold deserves the awards she won for her work

A sad, lonely woman (Kate Dickie) zombies through her job as a CCTV operator. She voyeuristically scans a score of cameras each night and reports to police when a crime is about to – or has just been - committed. When one of her cameras focuses on an early release prisoner (Tony Curran) who, we learn, did some un-named bad thing to her or her family, she begins obsessing about him. She falters in her job, but it goes much further than that, as she infiltrates his life. What did this man do, and what is he doing now? What death haunts this women’s family, and why is she sleeping with an urn? Captivating, obscure, and shrouded in mystery, the story is almost indecipherable, partly because of the skilled direction, and partly because of the Glasgow accents. I enjoyed Jackie’s obsessive focus and Clyde’s creepiness. In a stroke of bad timing, I had just previous to watching this film spent some time transcribing the musings of a particularly mumbly grammar school teacher, so perhaps I was even less receptive to trying to decipher Glasgowian. My overall opinion of the film was not helped by my perception that the woman’s act of ‘revenge’ was not a believable one.

First time director Andrea Arnold should still be commended, however, for the first half of the film, which is riveting. Others agreed with this assessment; the film won the 2006 Jury Prize in Cannes.

Inspired by Danish director Lars von Trier, this is the first in a trilogy of films, each directed by a different new director, and starring the same cast. Rating: 2.5 of 4

"A brilliantly conceived thriller that keeps us guessing right up to the very end, Red Road intrigues but frustrates by its slow development and often incomprehensible Scottish dialogue."
- Urban Cinefile Critics (Urban Cinefile)

"Red Road is an atmospheric little thriller made up of equal parts paranoia, loneliness and anxiety."
- Liz Braun (Jam! Movies)

"A woman-directed film that aspires to compete on that predominantly male turf, not with an opposing and challenging female perspective, but by stepping up to the plate to make a sexually voyeuristic, sluttier than thou movie about women."
- Prairie Miller (WBAI Web Radio)

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