Movies Watched in 2012
87. Red Road (Andrea Arnold, 2006)
Well shit, who would have ever guessed that Andrea Arnold’s debut feature length would be my favorite of her three so far? I first saw Fish Tank and wasn’t particularly blown away. Then came Wuthering Heights which swept me off my feet with the way she could create such a harsh but beautiful period piece. But Red Road has something about it that’s just so mesmerizing.
Could it be the absolutely exquisite camerawork? The looks of this film are what really establish the feel that it’s going for. I haven’t seen a woman’s face framed so beautifully in a long time. Hell, even when she isn’t the focus, you’re getting some shots that might as well be framed in a museum. With this great photography, there is beauty to be found in even the seediest and most poorly lit locations that the film features. It’s not at all fun and games with Andrea Arnolds, and much like her other films, it’s a dark world where desperation comes first.
Of course, this intensity isn’t blatantly thrown at you, but takes such a subtle route to depicting it. The way the story unfolds works wonders and a powerful performance from Kate Dickie adds so much to what makes this movie brilliant. Honestly, she’s fucking fantastic as Jackie in this and the simplest changes in her expressions as the character develops are what makes her so great to watch.
While the movie does waver a bit and slows down a little more than necessary in the second act, it really doesn’t let up - exploring Jackie’s deepest thoughts from start to finish. Red Road is as tense as any drama can be and manages to absorb you into this voyeuristic world of a woman who is overwhelmed by the past.
Also, this (and her other films) pretty much reinforce the idea that Andrea Arnold has more balls and talent than most of the male directors in Hollywood ever will.