Written by: Andrea Arnold
Starring: Kate Dickie, Tony Curran, Martin Compston, Natalie Press
Confronting someone who has done you harm unknowingly or not provides varying options both legal and illegal to remedy. It comes down to how the harmed individual wishes to react. The shades of gray in enacting this revenge get explored in the visceral and mysterious Red Road. A tremendous directorial debut and a film that will assuredly make you not forget it any time soon.
Working as a CCTV operator in Glasglow, Jackie (Kate Dickie) sees everything regarding a specific neighborhood called Red Road. There she observes a man named Clyde (Tony Curran), who she begins to grow a fascination with. She watches his every move within her purview of the cameras she operates, which then transitions into her seeing him in the flesh and causing some intriguing interactions.
Mystery and unpredictability serve as the two descriptive words most apt when speaking about Red Road as the narrative allows us to follow this woman but have no idea exactly what she wants. Spending her days looking at different cameras and documenting anything she deems strange naturally would allow a level of suspicion to continually build in her mind. Observing people when they think no one is watching but naturally, as a society knowing these cameras remain present allows Jackie to see some irregular things. It makes her fascination with Clyde all the more intriguing as watching from afar becomes something more intimate and we have no idea where things will go next.
This descent from the tower documenting everything to her physical involvement with Clyde digs into her as a person and the timidness as well as directness she shows in different moments. Her decisions seek to confuse and they sure accomplish the feat in how she continues to follow this man to a concerning degree and knowing about the man except for his drinking, you never know exactly how Clyde will react either. It allows for this continual tension to build in this film and as spectators of this you almost have to view this through covered eyes because there’s no way to know where it will go next.
The continual escalation of tension has its impact through Andrea Arnold’s direction and when acknowledging this serves as her feature debut, it proves to be even more impressive. Having demonstrated to be such a visceral filmmaker in the physicality she displays with her characters this feature shows the beginnings of her directorial trademarks. The way she positions the camera so close to the characters allows for a level of abrasiveness with our presence as audience members to these characters. Not only does Jackie already hold this position when it comes to Clyde, but now we get integrated as well as intruders to an even larger degree. Incredible work from Andrea Arnold which makes it all the more unsurprising she becomes the brilliant director we know her as today.
Holding the attention of the camera and ours are Kate Dickie and Tony Curran. Two actors who branch out from their roles in this film to be supporting players in various projects including Doctor Who and Game of Thrones; these two get the chance to lead this film and they most certainly make the case why they deserve to head up more films. Tony Curran embodies the abrasive Clyde in all of the confusion that comes with him but Kate Dickie heavily impresses in how she captures the mysteriousness of Jackie. With all of the head-scratching incidents in this film, you never lose the connection to Jackie as an interesting character to follow and much of that must be credited to Dickie’s performance.
Rough around the edges in a good way and definitely a film filled with unforgettable imagery, Red Road creates such an engrossing ride to find the truth and purpose behind Jackie’s obsession with Clyde. It demonstrates exactly how far she will go in order to reach her mysterious goals to a graphic degree and goes in places you most certainly will not see coming. It all makes for an uncomfortable viewing experience that accomplishes everything it sets out to do. An undoubtedly a bright start for Andrea Arnold as she proves to be a director to seek out everything she creates as she definitely deserves it.