Red Road (2006)

UK, Denmark / 113 minutes / color / BBC, Sigma, Zentropa, Verve Dir & Scr: Andrea Arnold Pr: Carrie Comerford Story: characters created by Lone Scherfig, Anders Thomas Jensen Cine: Robbie Ryan Cast: Kate Dickie, Tony Curran, Martin Compston, Natalie Press, Paul Higgins.

Jackie Morrison (Dickie) has the job of watching CCTV images in a downtrodden area of Glasgow, Scotland. One day she catches sight of a face that’s familiar, that of ex-con Clyde Henderson (Curran), and obsessively she begins to follow him both with the cameras and in real life, working herself close to and eventually seducing him. What is her purpose? Although clearly she recognizes him, he has at best a vague feeling he might have seen her somewhere before. The buildup to the final, devastating denouement—which is climactic in more senses than one—is long, slow and, many might say, tedious, the narrative flow being barely a trickle for perhaps the first two-thirds of the tale, and adorned by minimal soundtrack and dialogue.

This is one of projected trilogy of movies—overall title Advance Party—based on nine characters created by Scherfig and Jensen, each movie with a different director; the second in the trilogy is Donkeys (2010), while the fate of the third is currently uncertain. The movies are made roughly, if not necessarily precisely, according to the rules of the so-called Dogme 95 Manifesto, created in 1995 by Danish directors Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg, whereby the use of hi-tech—as in special effects—is to be eschewed.

Although this was Arnold’s first feature, she had won an Oscar for the short Wasp (2003). At Cannes Red Road was nominated for the Palme d’Or and won the Jury Prize; movie, cast and crew have won or been nominated for a stack of other awards.

On Red Road