Review: Red Road [2006] - dir. Andrea Arnold

Jackie works a job that many would find dull; she is a CCTV operator but one that gets a perverse kick out of watching others going about their everyday business; that is until a day in which a man appears on her monitor: A man from her past and one that she never wanted to see again. Now she has no alternative but to confront both the man, and the demons inside herself.

So this is going to be a hard review to write, I am sure a million people or more will disagree with me on many aspects of my opinions of this film, and judging by the reviews on Amazon, I am probably very, very wrong... but here goes...

The good signs for me when I picked this film up off the shelf of the local HMV were many fold, great price (£2! - how are HMV making ANY profit these days?), stunning reviews from Empire, The Times, The Sun(!), OK sorry, maybe not excited by a positive review from The Sun, but there you go... Scottish made, BBC & Lottery Funded and the bit that stuck out more than anything, was the fact that it was part of the much feted cinematic trilogy experiment by Lars Von Trier, so as you can imagine I expected much, especially as Andrea Arnold delivered so much in the award winning short 'Wasp'.

So I got it home and dived in... Let me say straight up, as we find in most British cinema, the acting is convincing; both Kate Dickie and Tony Curran give naturalistic performances that are straight out of Shane Meadows/Mike Leigh territory... and this is also probably one of the biggest downfalls for me, the film doesn't meander as much as get lost in a laconic haze for most of it's running time. What is meant to be tense is let down by slow, static shots and minimalist dialogue. Even the sex scenes, which so many people deemed daring and realistic, just fall by the wayside in a plot that, at times clever, seems to fail to deliver on every front as the 'taut' thriller it is billed as.

I for one are sick of seeing areas like Glasgow, Manchester or Birmingham reduced to a sea of melancholy greyness and what seems to pass in British cinema for 'hard-hitting' realism, these places have fire, and for all the deprivation that is still prevalent in many former industrial areas of the UK why can't people show the world the optimism and passion of real British people?

Yes, it's clever, probably though-provoking, shot for shot the technique is exemplary, but all-in-all deeply unfulfilling, borderline depressing and reminiscent of all those eastern bloc movies that came before Perestroika... sorry Andrea, better luck next time, I hope you have a next time as you have promise.

So if you think I'm wrong... let me know :)


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