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Jackie works as a CCTV operator for Glasgow council. Daily she watches over a small part of the world, takes seriously her duties to protect the people moving about in her monitors. Jackie steers clear of involvements with anyone, has life sorted in a way that suits her. Her life has an order, a calm, she has orchestrated it to be this way because in the past Jackie has known the greatest pain a human can know. Then one day a man appears in her monitors, a man she thought she would never see again or wants to see again. Now the opportunity presents itself, she is compelled to confront him.
For more about Red Road and the Red Road Blu-ray release, see the Red Road Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on March 2, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Kate Dickie, Tony Curran, Martin Compston, Natalie Press
Director: Andrea Arnold
» See full cast & crew
Red Road Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, March 2, 2010
Winner of the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and winner of BAFTA's Carl Foreman Award for Most Promising Newcomer, Andrea Arnold's "Red Road" (2006) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Verve Pictures. The supplemental features on the disc include interviews with Andrea Arnold and cast members; behind the scenes featurette; and trailers. Not subtitled in English. Region-B "locked".
Jackie (Kate Dickie, Somers Town) gets paid to watch people living - she is a CCTV operator in Glasgow, Scotland. Each day, she monitors parts of the city where criminals act quickly. If something bad happens, she reports it to the Police so that proper action is taken as soon as possible.
One day Jackie sees on her monitor a man, Clyde (Tony Curran, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), from her past and begins following him closely. Eventually, she approaches the Clyde in a rundown coffee place. He does not recognize Jackie and assumes that she might be looking for a one-night stand. Before Clyde makes the crucial move, however, Jackie leaves.
Jackie and Clyde meet again - after Jackie invites herself to a party at his apartment in Red Road, a low-income district of the city. Clyde is surprised to see Jackie amongst his friends. He offers her a drink and asks if she would like to dance with him - she does. Clyde also attempts to kiss Jackie, but she immediately runs away.
A couple of days later, Jackie and Clyde meet again - this time at a local pub. They have drinks and later on have sex in his apartment. Before Jackie leaves, she heads to the bathroom where she cuts her face and makes sure that there is enough of Clyde's sperm in her.
In 2006, writer/director Andrea Arnold's Red Road won the prestigious Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. And for a good reason - this is an exceptionally well acted film that gets its points across in spectacular fashion.
Red Road, however, certainly isn't for everyone - in it, the language is rough, the sex explicit and atmosphere tense. The main protagonist is also a woman who is incredibly difficult to like. She is lonely, hurt, and obsessed with something that is revealed to us only at the very end of the film. Along the way, while we discover bits of the woman's past, we are unsure what her true motives for befriending Clyde are. We are also unsure if we should trust her, or the man she is after.
Parts of Red Road could fit perfectly in something David Lynch would direct. When Jackie first enters the high-rise where Clyde lives, we could sense that something bad is about to happen. We are unsure what, but we know that we would find out soon. Then there are also parts of Red Road that look like they might have been borrowed from a Mike Leigh or Lynn Ramsay film - the "in your face" gritty realism is absolutely suffocating. Unsurprisingly, at the end of Red Road it feels like there are two very different messages that we are left to contemplate. The first one is about our ability to remember and forgive. The second one is about real life and the fights in it that we are destined to lose.
What makes Red Road even more fascinating, however, is its construction. Apparently, the main characters in the film were created by Anders Thomas Jensen (After the Wedding) and Lone Scherfig (Italian for Beginners), with the intention of being part of a trilogy filmed according to a set of rules and aesthetic principles introduced by controversial Danish director Lars Von Trier (the "Advance Party" concept).
Note: In 2009, Andrea Arnold's second feature film, Fish Tank, won the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Earlier this year, Fish Tank also won the BAFTA Award for Outstanding British Film.
Red Road Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, encoded with MPEG-4 and granted a 1080i50 transfer, Andrea Arnold's Red Road arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Verve Pictures.
Considering the fact that Red Road was shot on digital video, it is rather difficult to critique the high-definition transfer provided by Verve Pictures. Still, I think that the basic elements here are very much intact, and more importantly, there aren't any purely technical flaws with the presentation.
Throughout the film contrast varies dramatically. For example, many of the outdoor scenes look natural, at times even surprisingly crisp. The indoor scenes, however, tend to look soft and warm. The film's color-scheme is also rather wild, with yellows, greens and blues being used in some truly unique ways.
Edge-enhancement and macroblocking are not a serious issue of concern. There is some mild natural noise that you would notice during some of the indoor scenes, but my impression is that the transfer is not to be blamed for it. Furthermore, even though this is an interlaced transfer, encoded in 1080i50, I did not detect any patterns of heavy motion-judder to report in this review (I had a similar experience with Lars Von Trier's Antichrist). All in all, I think that, as presented by Verve Pictures, Red Road looks very much as intended by its creator, director Andrea Arnold. (Note: This Blu-ray disc is encoded in 1080i50, a standard not supported by the overwhelming majority of Blu-ray players and TV sets in the U.S. Therefore, you must have a Region-Free player capable of converting 1080i50 to 1080i60, or a native Region-B player and a TV set capable of displaying 1080i50 data, in order to access the disc's content in the U.S.)
Red Road Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two audio tracks on this Blu-ray disc: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and English LPCM 2.0. For the record, Verve Pictures have not provided optional English subtitles for the main feature.
Red Road is primarily a dialog-driven feature, lacking a strong music score. Unsurprisingly, the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track does offer any notable surround effects. On the other hand, the dialog is crisp and clean. I did, however, find the Scottish accents to be quite thick at times, and on more than a few occasions had trouble understanding what was being said.
The English LPCM 2.0 track is quite similar to the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. In fact, aside from one specific scene - the fight in the bar between Clyde's friend and his father - I really could not notice much of a difference between the two.
Red Road Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Theatrical trailer - the original theatrical trailer for the film. Not subtitled. (2 min).
Interviews - a collage of interviews with director Andrea Arnold and cast members where they discuss the the complex nature of the film, the controversial script, the main characters, etc. Not subtitled. (13 min).
Behind the scenes - raw footage from the shooting of the film. Not subtitled. (2 min).
Fish Tank trailer - the original theatrical trailer for director Andrea Arnold's second feature film. Not subtitled. (2 min).
Red Road Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Raw, remarkably bold and explicit, British director Andrea Arnold's debut feature film, Red Road, is not to be missed. The film is the first installment in a trilogy inspired by Lars Von Trier's "Advance Party" concept. The Blu-ray disc herein reviewed, courtesy of British distributors Verve Pictures, looks and sounds very good. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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