April 23, 2007

MOVIES: Red Road (Andrea Arnold, 2006/2007 US)

Jackie (Kate Dickie) works for the Glasgow police department, watching the monitors from the security cameras in one part of the city and dispatching officers whenever she sees crimes or suspicious activities. This job is about all the human contact she gets, as she's something of a recluse, living alone and occasionally meeting a friend for quick sex in his van.

Jackie is surprised one day to see Clyde (Tony Curran) on one of her monitors, leaving the Red Road apartment complex. She begins following him around the city on her monitors, and eventually progresses to stalking him in the real world -- going to a party at his apartment, "accidentally" meeting him at the bar, and so on.

Writer/director Andrea Arnold is in no hurry to fill in the missing pieces of the story, so we don't understand fully the connection between Jackie and Clyde for quite a while. The pieces of the puzzle fall into place just quickly enough to keep us involved in the story, and the story is structured well enough that I never felt that information was being withheld solely in the interest of generating artificial suspense. There is one glaring plot loophole -- it seems unlikely that Clyde wouldn't recognize Jackie long before he does -- but the story is so involving that I was willing to let Arnold finesse that point.

Dickie and Curran are both very good here, and the relationship between them keeps shifting in interesting ways as we (and they) gradually figure out what each other are really up to.

This movie is part of the Advance Party project, a Dogme offshoot in which the same four central characters (and actors) will be used by three different writer/director teams to make three different movies; the relationships among the characters may change, but the basic character traits and the Glasgow setting will be common. Red Road gets the project off to a fine start, and I hope that the other films will also make it to the US.

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