Monday, April 08, 2013
Written and directed by Andrea Arnold, Red Road is the story about a CCTV security officer who is intrigued by a man she knew years ago as she watches him through her video monitor. The first of a trilogy of films of the Advance Party film series that is made under a set of rules with character back-stories and geography settings for new filmmakers. Starring Kate Dickie and Tony Curran. Red Road is a harrowing yet exquisite film from Andrea Arnold.
Obsession is an interesting theme as it often involves some kind of motivation. For this security officer who watches the entire city of Glasgow through a video monitor to make sure things are going well until one particular day when she sees the face of a man she had known many years ago. Who is this man and why is she interested in him? The film slowly explores the life of this woman named Jackie (Kate Dickie) as she follows this mysterious man named Clyde (Tony Curran) as she learns that he’s been released from prison over something he committed. While information isn’t unveiled until late in the film, it does become obvious into why Jackie wants to see what Clyde is up to. Yet, writer/director Andrea Arnold takes her time to figure out what is Jackie really trying to discover and how to approach this man.
The screenplay that features some rules conceived by Danish filmmakers Lone Scherfig and Anders Thomas Jensen that includes character backgrounds and such along with what these new filmmakers should do. Arnold takes these ideas and uses it to create her own story about a woman still mired in some form of grief as she is trying to follow this man. Jackie starts off as a woman living her life alone as a security officer who would often have trysts with a married co-worker while distancing herself from family. By the time she learns about Clyde’s release, she is intrigued to see if he’s up to no good as she eventually takes a closer look where he lives with a couple of young people in Stevie (Martin Compston) and April (Nathalie Press). Once she gets closer to learn more about Clyde, there is a conflict into what Jackie wants as there are those in Clyde’s circle who are also wondering about Jackie’s intentions though they don’t really know her either.
Arnold’s direction is presented in a style similar to Dogme 95 except in its look as it is loose and free wielding but also very direct into the images that Arnold is presenting. Some of which are very entrancing from the look of Glasgow seen through the video monitors including the famous Red Road section of the city as well as the city itself at night. Shot in a hand-held camera style, Arnold’s direction allows the film to have this sense of realism but also a beauty to the stark world of Glasgow, Scotland as it’s a character in itself. There also some very direct and frank scenes of sexuality as it relates to Jackie’s own sense of desires that she seems to have lost as Arnold isn’t afraid to make it a bit graphic or confrontational. Yet, it plays to what Jackie is going through as she is intrigued by Clyde as well as the unveiling of why she did this as the answers themselves don’t become easy to digest though Arnold is aware that the audiences are smart enough to know why. Overall, Arnold creates a very fascinating yet haunting film about obsession and loss.
Cinematographer Robbie Ryan does brilliant work with the film‘s photography from the grainy look of the video footage to some of the more entrancing lighting schemes for the scenes at night. Editor Nicolas Chaudeurge does great work with the editing by using some methodical cuts to play out some of the drama as well as some jump-cut to intensify some of these dramatic moments. Production designer Helen Scott does wonderful work with the look of the work place Jackie works at to the apartment where Clyde lives with Stevie and April.
Costume designer Carole K. Millar does nice work with the clothes as it‘s mostly casual for the characters to wear including some of the darker clothes of Jackie. Sound designer Douglas MacDougall is amazing for the atmosphere it creates in some of the scenes in the city and at Jackie’s work station to showcase the world of obsession. The film’s music consists largely of what is played on location as it features music by the Monkees and Oasis as well as cover of Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart in the closing credits.
The casting by Kahleen Crawford and Des Hamilton is remarkable as it features some notable small roles from Andrew Armour as Jackie’s father-in-law, Paul Higgins as a co-worker/part-time lover of Jackie’s, and John Comerford as a man with a dog Jackie always watches. Martin Compston and Nathalie Press are wonderful as the young couple Stevie and April as two people struggling to find something in their lives as they’re both poor. Tony Curran is great as Clyde as a man trying to live a straight life as he’s eager to make contact with his daughter as he is intrigued by Jackie. Kate Dickie is marvelous as Jackie as a woman who is wondering about what Clyde is up to as Dickie brings a chilling presence as a woman trying to look from afar as she has no idea what she’s in for.
Red Road is a tremendous film from Andrea Arnold that features amazing performances from Kate Dickie and Tony Curran. The film is an intriguing look into the world of obsession as well as a woman dealing with her own intentions into that obsession. It’s a film with a sense of richness as well as an ugliness that adds to that world of realism and suspense. In the end, Red Road is an exhilarating film from Andrea Arnold.
Andrea Arnold Films: Fish Tank - Wuthering Heights (2011 film) - American Honey - (Cow (2021 film)) - The Auteurs #31: Andrea Arnold
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