Red Road: Scottish Voyeur Indicts Herself, Compellingly

Like all voyeurs, Jackie (Kate Dickie) lacks a life to call her own outside of her job manning a police closed-circuit television camera in Glasgow's dead-end inner city, where she lives through the small dramas that unfold on her screens. Like her protagonist, writer-director Andrea Arnold plays the source of Jackie's own grief close to her chest, focusing on her growing obsession with a shifty-looking man (Tony Curran) whom she tracks through his sordid days and nights in a graffiti-scarred housing project. No one does poetic British miserabilism with more remorseless hyperrealism than the Scots, and Arnold, who amassed a raft of reputable awards for her 2003 short film Wasp, directs with a precociously sure touch and a raw taste for graphic sexuality rare in a woman helmer. As cat stalks mouse and vice versa, it becomes less and less clear whose heart is in greater need of softening. If the movie is marred by pat uplift at the end, it's worth bearing in mind that this is not just a feature debut but the first in a Lars von Trier–inspired Dogme trilogy in which three directors embellish on the same cast of preassigned characters. The measure of Red Road is that it leaves us hungry for what comes next.

 
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