It must be difficult to make a movie about heavier subjects without lapsing into melodrama, given how many films fall on the wrong side of that fence. 2006’s Red Road is one of the pictures that immediately stands out in my mind as being a solemn drama that not once lapses into mawkish sentiment.
Kate Dickie stars as the employee of a security firm where she monitors CCTV cameras around the city. She seems to alternate between being a voyeur and being a guardian angel. There are some people she sees repeatedly and just seems to enjoy watching of them, such as a middle-aged man and his elderly bulldog. Other times, she sees the signs of potentially bad situations unfolding and she notifies the authorities.
Already, there’s something established about her character. She is somebody who is comfortable observing from a distance, but not in getting close to others. It is clear something tragic has happened in her past but it will take a while before that is fully revealed to us, and then only after a few scattered quick glimpses of clues.
One night, she sees somebody on camera who she believes should still be in prison. Turns out that person has been released. Soon, she insinuates herself into his life for purposes that remain murky for most of the film.
It is at this point that I can’t say much more about the picture. I had seen it once before over a decade ago and barely remembered it. This time, I came away quite impressed. Red Road has an interesting mystery at its core but, more than that, it is about overcoming despair and reconnecting with humanity.
Dir: Andrea Arnold
Starring Kate Dickie, Tony Curran
Watched on Region B blu-ray