directed by Andrea Arnold (2006)
Few films manage to sustain tension and suspense as well as Red Road, a thriller that causes the viewer to continually wonder what’s exactly is going on, manages to. Jackie is a security camera operator in a very, very bleak housing estate of Glasgow (can’t imagine the Scotland tourism board endorsing this one) who observes the people around her at a distance without their knowledge. One night, she is shaken by a face she recognizes on her screen.
Most of the film is fueled by the constant surprises. Who is this man, and what is his relationship to Jackie? Why was she so upset at the sight of him, yet he doesn’t know her face? As in any thriller built around a tower of questions, the answers are not always as fulfilling as the asking, but in this case, the reveal changes the entire tone and message of the movie. Thought you were simply going to get scared and see some vengeance? Try a totally raw sex scene (the closest I’ve seen to realistic doing it on film in some time) and redemption. I have to admit, it initially turned me a bit off until I accepted that it was a different film than I expected.
But to say Red Road is merely a sum of its plot elements is unfair. Through the dogme techniques, director Andrea Arnold paints a very tactile and realistic world. She manages to make not only sex, but parties, breakdowns, bars, and fights feel like you’ve just stumbled into them. Quite a feat for a directorial debut.
The movie is available on netflix instant, a great way to discover films you might otherwise never hear about.