Saturday, November 3, 2007

DVD Review: Red Road

The debut feature from director Andrea Arnold, Red Road won the jury prize at last year's Cannes Film Festival. Kate Dickie (an actress who has done mostly Scottish TV) is breathtaking as Jackie, a single Glasgow woman who works as a surveillance operator. She spends her shifts on the job watching people live their lives and most of her off time alone in her apartment. Something has obviously stolen her lust for life, and she seems more interested in the men and women she's monitoring on the street than her real-life friends and family (including a married man with whom she's having an unfulfilling affair). At work one night monitoring the seedy Red Road district, Jackie catches a glimpse of the face of a man having sex outside with a prostitute, and from her reaction, you immediately realize that he's probably the reason she's so unhappy. She becomes obsessed with watching his every public move to the point that she neglects her job, and her behavior and actions only get weirder and weirder. (To go into any specifics would spoil the many plot twists.) Arnold rarely lets the viewer see anything that Jackie doesn't, creating a sense of claustrophobia that only adds to the building tension between Jackie and the man who consumes her every thought (played with perfect intensity by Tony Curran). Arnold's only misstep is the too-neat ending, which is a bit jarring given how organic and real the rest of the film feels. While not at the same level as similarly themed movies such as Rear Window, The Conversation and the more recent The Lives Of Others, Red Road is nonetheless an engaging thriller.

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