Written and Directed by Andrea Arnold
Screening at from 3rd November
When Red Road premièred at this year's Cannes festival, some cinéastes
apparently marvelled at how writer/director Andrea Arnold had created
such a realistic-looking Orwellian dystopia in Britain, one of the wealthiest
nations in the world. Little did the poor little rich reviewers realise,
the bleak and dilapidated Red Road area of Glasgow is genuine; actual
flesh and blood people live there. The set was a readymade provided by
21st century capitalist society.
There are currently 4.2 million CCTV cameras in this country, and in
this film Jackie (Katie Dickie) monitors a bank of about thirty, covering
an impoverished area in Scotland's second city. Her life is lonely but
quiet and ordered, until one day she recognises a face from her past (that
of Tony Curran) on one of the screens. Gradually, Jackie is drawn into
the shadowy realm inhabited by the flotsam of society.
And when I say it's a shadowy realm, I mean it, because Arnold is leading
a new wave of Scots inspired by the Dogme 95 'Vow of Chastity' rules established
by Danish film makers Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg, which means
there is no extra lighting, and no gimmicky use of computers, sound effects
or any other Hollywood weapons of mass distraction.
All that means that the story, script and acting have to be top notch,
and Red Road scores two and a half out of three on that score. The main
premise - once it's finally revealed - is almost literally unbelievable,
and that takes some of the 'shine' off, even though that seems completely
the wrong word for what may be the most realistic-looking Orwellian dystopia
I have ever seen. On a cinema screen anyway.