Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Red Road


Sort of a combination of Rear Window, Vertigo, and Lars von Trier. The first one for the voyeurism, the second for the obsession, and Lars for the bullshit. The writer/director, Andrea Arnold, won a Best Live Action Short Oscar for “Wasp.” This is her first feature film, and it won the Jury Prize at Cannes. She is loosely associated with the Dogme 95 movement co-founded by the most over-rated director working in films today, Lars von Trier. I have ranted against Dogme elsewhere, but briefly: They expounded 10 rules, a “Vow of Chastity” for a Dogme film, at least 8 of which are sheer bullshit insanity. The object was to encourage low-budget, personal films, to somehow give “freedom” to the filmmaker, but I can hardly imagine a more limiting straitjacket. At least 90% of the Vow of Chastity has been abandoned by everyone, including Lars. (see—or better yet, get somebody to describe—the terrible, terrible von Trier film Dogville if you don’t believe me. It violates all 10 rules.)

So I’m happy to say that the Dogme connection with this little gem of a movie is tenuous to nonexistent. The idea was for three directors to make three films, using the same characters. It appears that the second and third were never made. Don’t know why. But it doesn’t matter at all; I only brought it up so I could take one more swipe at the stupid, talentless little Danish twerp. (See The 5 Obstructions. Really, it’s very good, and exposes von Trier as the control freak that he is, and a borderline fascist.)

The story here is about Jackie, who monitors surveillance cameras trained on the streets of Glasgow. (Big Brother has arrived with a vengeance in the UK, in case you didn’t know. In the big cities now there is literally no public place where you are not observed by a CCTV camera.) It is a voyeur’s dream, with 35 screens to look at, pan, scan, and zoom in close enough to count somebody’s nose hairs. No one can escape her. She notices someone she knows, and not in a good way. She begins to follow him … and I have to stop being too specific here, because the allure of the movie is trying to figure out what she’s doing, and what has been done. We know he’s on parole. We know she has suffered a great loss. We suspect she wants to make him pay for something … but what? And what does she have in mind? The answer to the last is possibly far-fetched, but quite satisfying. Yet the movie doesn’t stop there. It carries on to the point after one gets revenge, and we find that it’s not always what it’s cracked up to be. I highly recommend this one. It really is the kind of film Hitchcock would be making if he’d lived into the 21st century. … well, this is probably sexier than Hitch could have handled, but that’s not a bad thing. There is one scene that is about as explicit as anything I’ve ever seen outside of actual porn.

And am I ever thankful for the subtitles! The Scottish spoken here is all but unintelligible. I’d have had better luck understanding a movie in French.