Director: Andrea Arnold
Running time: 113 mins
Screenplay: Andrea Arnold
Photography: Robbie Ryan
Editor: Nicolas Chaudeurge
R18 violence, offensive language, sex scenes
With: Kate Dickie, Tony Curran, Martin Compston, Natalie Press
Festivals: Cannes (In Competition), Toronto2006; Sundance 2007
Jury Prize, Cannes 2006
I went to see Red Road last night at the Regent. I have been looking forward to this film for a while, ever since I read a review about it in Art Review magazine (UK). It follows the life of a young woman (Jackie, played by Kate Dickie) living in Glasgow and who works for the city CCTV network (City Eye) where she spends her days in front of several monitors, tracking people who may be in trouble or up to no good so that she can help prevent the crime.
We follow Jackie about her day-to-day, gaining small insights into her life, before we witenss her shocked reaction to an unknown man through the monitor. We watch as Jackie becomes quietly obsessed with tracking (read stalking) this man’s movements, and wonder what connection he has to her past.
I enjoyed this film and I thought it was very clever. It is a quiet film that unfolds slowly, but gives you enough information to keep you interested. Focussing on large flat blocks of urban poverty in glasgow, it is a grim setting for tension and intrigue that is built up through Andrea Arnold’s directorship. But there a smal moments of hope sprinkled throughout that leave you wondering about what might have been, amongst the grim reminders that the CCTV cameras were installed for a reason. It’s R18 for a reason; if you’re used to friendly swearing by scots folk, this goes that wee bit further where expletives are dished out with menace and in anger, and the sex scene is not for the faint-heated, but don’t let that put you off.
This film is worth it for all the sinister Big Brother connotations in our current world, pros and cons, without comment on either. And Scotland really is like that – this one tale of many similar.
I’m also interested in what happens next. The premise of this film and the next two (not yet made) is that the nine central characters and actors will stay the same throughout the three films but the story and director will change – how this film will move on I do not know – a hard act to follow.
(FYI – Martin Compston who plays Stevie in Red Road, rose to fame in 2002 in a film called Sweet Sixteen, by Scottish Director Ken Loach, where he had been chosen without any prior acting experience to play a young working class lad. There are similar threads and he is certainly type-cast in Red Road to a similar character, but he has also expanded his portfolio with his part in Scottish TV drama, Monarch of the Glen, which I believe has aired over here…)