Saturday, September 12, 2009

Best British Films: 20. Red Road

Red Road is an exceptional film from director Andrea Arnold, who's making the rounds on the festival circuit this year with Fish Tank. It follows a woman named Jackie, a CCTV operator in Glasgow, who suddenly recognizes one of the many faces she moniters day after day and tries to integrate herself into his life.

Red Road is the first film in Advance Party, a projected trilogy following a set of rules dictating how the films will be written and directed. They will all be filmed and set in Scotland, using the same characters and cast. Each film will be made by a different first-time director. Minor characters in one film may be major characters in another, and vice versa. It's a concept from none other than Lars Von Trier, director of the wildly controversial Antichrist, out next month. I'm anxious to see what the next two installments have to offer.

Andrea Arnold certainly did her part with Red Road, a chilling and suspenseful indie that admirably portrays despair and isolation. There is a deeper motivation to each of Jackie's seemingly bizarre actions, but Arnold doesn't rush us into understanding. The story unfolds at its own pace, with no excessive explanitory dialogue. We learn the story through context only, and its effect is more powerfully felt this way.

Featuring great performances and a strong message about the barriers people hide behind after suffering profound losses, Red Road is a phenomenal first film from Andrea Arnold, and has me highly anticipating this year's acclaimed Fish Tank. ****/4


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