Kate Dickie, Tony Curran
Already an Oscar-winner for her short film work, Andrea Arnold began her feature filmmaking career with this unremittingly tense thriller set in the housing estates of Glasgow.
As with her later work in Fish Tank, Wuthering Heights and American Honey, Arnold injects an authentic story of female isolation with striking visuals that breathe life into the familiar.
Hiding from life behind a bank of screens, CCTV operator Jackie (Kate Dickie) surveys the minutia of day to day life on the now demolished Red Road Flats in Glasgow.
Emotionally numb after a traumatic loss, Jackie passes her time watching other people’s lives flicker across her CCTV monitors.
Her own life seemingly on hold, nothing penetrates her state of inertia until, electrified, she spots Clyde (Tony Curran) who has recently been released from prison. Haunted by this figure from her past, whom Jackie believes has no right to freedom, she plots her revenge on him for a crime we only fully understand in the last minutes of the film.
With one of the most strikingly audacious sex scenes in recent cinema, for once told from a female perspective, Red Road pulls off the elusive task of telling a human story which manages to simultaneously be both uncompromising and heartbreakingly sensitive, while never lapsing into sentimentality.