out of Five
Running time: 114
Opens London Film Festival: 22nd October
Impressively directed and superbly acted, this slow-burning thriller exerts a tight grip throughout, even if the conclusion falls a little flat.
What's it all about?
Red Road is part of one of those Danish film-related experiments, the first of a trilogy of Glasgow-set films, which will have three different directors and stories but the same characters played by the same actors. Kate Dickie plays Jackie, a lonely CCTV operative who is mysteriously obsessed with Clyde (Tony Curran), a local man on the distinctive Red Road estate.
Not content with watching Clyde on CCTV, Jackie begins to stalk him in real life, crashing his parties and getting to know his friends (Martin Compston and Natalie Press). Gradually it becomes clear that Clyde holds the key to an incident in Jackie's past but do her actions spring from desire or from something darker?
Making her feature film debut, Katie Dickie gives an astonishing performance as Jackie, displaying a cold, brittle exterior that occasionally cracks to reveal both pain and passion in equal measure.
Curran is equally good as the ex-con who may or may not be trying to put his shady past behind him and there's strong support from both Compston and Press (whose characters will presumably come into their own in future films).
Director Andrea Arnold (who won an Oscar for her short film, Wasp) gives the film a decidedly European feel and creates a powerfully tense atmosphere. There are also subtle echoes of other films: the focus on CCTV footage recalls Michael Haneke's Hidden, while the scenes of Jackie following Clyde are reminiscent of Vertigo.
There are some incredible sequences, including a surprisingly explicit sex scene that is remarkable in its intensity. The only real problem is that the film is just a little too long and that the resolution is something of an anti-climax.
A gripping thriller with strong performances and assured direction throughout. Highly recommended.