Red Road (2006)

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Surveillance operator Jackie (Kate Dickie) watches the world through the network of cameras that pepper the modern British landscape, from behind a veneer of both technology and unidentified alienation. She fends off friends and family with vaguely defined loss hurting them all. When she spots Clyde (Tony Curran), a newly-released convict who she seems to know from an incident buried in the past, she begins dogging his path, first from her digital sanctuary, and then at increasingly close quarters.
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Director Andrea Arnold’s digi-cam evocation of a blasted, poverty-stricken, sorrow-riddled corner of the western world – in this case, the tower estates of Glasgow – is appropriately depressing and mildly, poetically stylish. But as a dramatic entity, the film, a rugged melding of Blow-Up and the Dardennes brothers, is overlong, soporific, and unconvincing. The cryptic realism is finally more limiting than incisive, obscuring depths of feeling and thinking in its characters, and the style has none of the complexity of perception that makes Gus Van Sant’s meandering, dissociative epics interesting, nor the convincing psychology for desperate straits of character that makes the Dardennes powerful.
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The melodramatic acts and revelations that underpin the last twenty minutes are less urban tragedy than a weak stab at giving meaning to the exercise. There's a variety of message about forgiveness and redemption, but it's awkward and disturbing as it asks us to accept a heroine unstable and driven enough to try and set up a man in a faintly ludicrous act of revenge, and then call it all off, and instead pursue a thin, unconvincing - both in dialogue and characterisation - confrontation, leading to a clumsy piece of uplift. This comes after seemingly hours of ambling anti-pace, spiced with the full array of gritty flourishes to prove realist credentials: compulsory moments of booze, brawling, vomiting, and full-bore kit-off sex scenes where no-one has an orgasm. It's a thin gruel for the soul.
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