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RED ROAD
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Reviewed by: Dave Murray

Directed by: Andrea Arnold

Starring:
Kate Dickie
Tony Curran
Martin Compston

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
Jackie works as a Closed Circuit city security operator in Glascow. Each day she watches over a small part of the world, protecting the people living their lives under her gaze. One day a man appears on her monitor, a man she thought she would never see again, a man she never wanted to see again. Now she has no choice, and she is compelled to confront him.
Is it good movie?
When a movie is advertised as being a Grand Jury Prize Winner at Cannes, and an official selection of both the Sundance and Toronto Film Festivals, that usually sets my pretentious "film" alarm wailing like a horny banshee. When said film is also a Danish/Scottish co-production, and the first of three concept movies that feature the same rotating characters directed by full time directors, my testicles crawl up into my abdomen and I brace myself for the worst. Despite having a passable concept and some nifty shots, not to mention one hell of an actor, this lame dog limps along and barely raises my interest above the level of a corpse.

Now, I'm all for the efforts of first time feature film directors. However, director Andrea Arnold manages to take an intriguing concept and the germ of an interesting story and film it with a complete lack of style, failing to inspire any interest in the narrative at all. I found myself sincerely not caring one lick as to why the character of Clyde went to prison (an accidental murder), nor why Jackie is simultaneously mourning the unknown dead and stalking Clyde (it was her husband and daughter that Clyde killed). Add to the fact that after stalking him, she then proceeds to have what has to be the most drawn out and intrinsically boring sex with the guy (that was almost painful to sit through), only to take his used condom and accuse him of rape, and you have the shockingly bland portrait of one sick chick. And this is then topped off with a piss off, cop out redemption ending where she drops the charges and forgives him? Folks, you lost me long ago. This could have been a recipe for some deep human pathos and some really nasty revenge. Instead, we are treated to a movie that is slo, plodding and devoid of decent performances, interesting visuals and even interesting characterizations. I realize that the Red Road area of Glascow is bleak and imposing, and this film symbolizes the bleakness of life there, but visually this is about as exciting as staring at my white ceilings for about nine hours straight. On the DVD, Arnold's Oscar winning short film, WASP, is also presented, and while I am at a loss to see anything that would merit an Academy Award, it was more interesting than the main feature, and maybe with a better script Arnold could make a decent movie. Her visual style in her short is impressive, so the question remains: why did this movie look so terribly boring? I don't have anything close to an answer.

Adding insult to injury, one of my favourite actors (Tony Curran, who was awesome in Braveheart, League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Underworld:Evolution) plays the underused role of Clyde. Working from what seems like a mostly improv script and without very much at all to work with, this great badass actor manages to come across as bland and boring. Combine this with the lifeless and unemotional performance by Kate Dickie as Jackie, and this woud be one of the few times I wished I could watch a movie on 20x fast forward! Which is a shame. There is some great shit being made in Scotland. Just not by these folks. If an actor is going to be trusted with carrying an entire movie on her performance, you should at least make sure that there is a role and a performance worth watching. I'd like to Dickie in something else, because this movie is definately not her strongest showing.

And after all the nodding off and cursing and tears, what was I left with? A little more anger towards movies of this ilk, 110 minutes of my life gone by with nothing interesting to say, and a migraine. Not a great time, if you ask me. And to put on the DVD that this is "The Best Thriller of 2007" is just an insult to movies in general, and the various trade review blurbs are so pretentious and misleading that it makes me want to choke myself. Seriously. Not a good sign.
Video / Audio
Video: Widescreen - 1.85:1.

Audio: English (Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1) and subtitles in English and Spanish.
The Extras
Aside from Arnold's interesting and Oscar winning short film WASP, all we have here is the Trailer for the film, and a small Photo Gallery.
Last Call
When I heard that this three film concept was birthed by none other than Lars Von Trier (the man behind the original and ultra creepy Kingdom, on which the Stephen King miniseries was based), I was left scratching my head and licking my wounds. I for one will not be watching the other two movies in this series. This is a movie that fans of horror, thrillers and generally interesting movies should avoid at all costs. However, if you are into bleak and by-the-numbers character studies where you barely care about any of the characters, then this one is for you. Just be warned. Everytime you buy a crappy 'art' movie, you are encouraging these people to just make more of them. That, and god also strangles a kitten. Think about those consequences before watching, please.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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