Red Road (2007)
Critic Consensus: Red Road director Andrea Arnold skillfully parses out just enough plot details at a time to keep the audience engrossed in this seductive thriller.
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Critic Reviews for Red Road
Unfortunately, its superb performances and assured camerawork are overwhelmed by dubious psychology and a clichéd climax.
Like the Peeping Tom-paranoia of similar recent films Disturbia and Civic Duty, this finely crafted debut feature by Scottish writer/director Andrea Arnold packs a wallop.
Though it's paced as a thriller, the film ultimately emerges as a haunting exploration of how grief can weigh on us, and the depths to which it can drive us.
A must for movie lovers who want to see how so much drama, mystery and emotion can be created from so little.
For a voyeuristic medium, this tale of a voyeur does a poor job of prying into its own protagonist's life.
Audience Reviews for Red Road
A very good movie about a women seeking revenge for the death of her husband when she see's the man responsible for his death and her daughters death back on the streets. A thriller and drama with many twist and turns. 4 stars 7-3-12
There's something very appealing about withholding the full story from an audience until the end. If it's done right. With Red Road, it's not done very well. What the folks involved in this project wanted to do, I'm sure, is create suspense. Mission not accomplished. By the time you understand the whole story, you really don't care.
A tough, surprising movie that is nonetheless limned with "I've Loved You So Long Syndrome" - that is, the obfuscation of the plot to extend an ultimately thin story to feature length. What makes this tough narrative conceit work in Red Road is that Jackie is obviously such a broken, lonely woman that there's really no need to exhume her personal tragedies. She has no tangible support system to discuss her past with, short of some passively hostile and generally removed in-laws. Where Kristin Scott Thomas was surrounded by people who cared about her in I've Loved You So Long, and was completely unable to conjure up why she was imprisoned for them, the main character here has no real reason to share. This movie is also superbly controlled, vaguely peppered with disturbing themes like voyeurism and abuse, not as an immediate concern of the plot but merely to enhance our view of Jackie's situation. Her position as a City Guard watchperson, as I understand it, empowers her in a way that she probably never got to experience in her past, not to mention the escapist thrills it provides by looking into someone else's life. I don't know if they were intentional or not, but there are some really thoughtful questions that Jackie's choice of profession brings up; how reliable are a human's hands in a position like this? She seems to be good at her job, but utterly fallible when confronted with a reminder of her horrifying past, which reveals itself to have consequences. It really made me wonder about the moral and political ramifications of placing cameras all over a city under the guise of "protecting its citizens," which I do not have to contend with in America but am still curious as to the reactions of those who do.
Whether this subtext is just me making things up or Andrea Arnold being exceptionally insightful in a quiet sort of way, it really speaks to Red Road's non-linearity and thematic freedom. Jackie, in herself, is so complex and unusual that she seems liable to do just about anything; the movie feels like it could go anywhere at any time. Kate Dickie's performance is commendable. She reminded me of a filtration of Tilda Swinton's Julia (two years her predecessor, anyway), more rigid morally but just as miserable and against-the-wall enough that her options are limitless. What more does she have to lose? Dickie is a wisp, sad and ephemeral, and her presence is like a hook in the viewer's gut. Her efforts in the movie's final scenes are shattering. This is not to discredit the fantastic work of her supporting cast, including Tony Curran as her scene partner in one of the most lucid, surprising scenes of "intimacy" I've seen. It is clear that Arnold, in participating in this experiment (Lars von Trier challenged three directors to make different movies with the same cast of characters and this is the first result), had a clear vision of what she wanted to do with her characters and how specifically to embody them. The actors she selected are perfect in what they project.
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