Red Road Blu-ray review

Red Road is a really, really good film. But is it the right choice to make the jump to high definition?

Jackie (Kate Dickie) leads a disappointing life as a CCTV operative in Glasgow. She’s estranged from her family and has acquaintances, but few real friends. Her days involve running the CCTV system for hours on end and, to break the tedium, following selected people around, voyeuristically involving herself in their lives.

Though seemingly lonely, Jackie doesn’t seem to mind her existence. She doesn’t appear to be depressed or overly emotional, she just seems disconnected from the world around her. Everything seems okay with her form of life until Clyde (Tony Curran) arrives on the scene and she feels compelled to follow his every move. Jackie knows who Clyde is and didn’t ever expect to see him again, certainly not this close to her.

Clyde may not have been the model citizen, but he’s living his life and is quite oblivious to the stalking practices of Jackie. He’s got friends, mainly in the form of Stevie (Martin Compston) and seems to be doing well for himself, including having a job, parties and interacting (quite uncouthly) with women. 

Jackie is pretty much relentless in her obsession and, it turns out, with good reason. She goes to Clyde’s party and they talk without him knowing who she is. She becomes friendly with Stevie, follows Clyde around pubs and finally manages to work her way fully into his life, albeit for a few moments. Her morally dubious actions pale in comparison to her post coital decision to destroy the life that Clyde has built for himself.

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Red Road is a tightly woven story of self-destructive obsession and is reminiscent of the social realism of Ken Loach, robbing us of a truly happy ending but leaving the viewer undoubtedly satisfied with the story that is told and the outcome presented. The principle characters are neither good nor evil, but ‘real’ and acted with such conviction that it’s difficult to tear yourself away from what you’re seeing.

There’s no denying that this is a stark portrayal of modern life, with a brutal approach to language, sex and society that may put many people off. However, it is a powerful and original film that captivates and is thought provoking.

The Disc

The film bitrate drifts around the 20Mbps mark and has two sound tracks, 2.0 and DTS 5.1. It’s effectively presented, with clean lines and very little grain or noise and clear audio allowing us to hear every syllable of the occasionally impregnable Scottish accent.

Whilst the film looks and sounds good, I’m not convinced that this type of film benefits from the HD format.

There are 12 minutes of interviews with cast and crew, including the director/writer, Andrea Arnold.  They are presented in standard definition and appear to be part of an electronic press kit. Andrea Arnold’s exploration of her role as a first-time feature film director is honest, from her surprise at the size of the crew to her experiences in Glasgow. It would have been nice to hear her in a commentary. The cast are equally honest in their appraisal of the filming experiences and it would definitely have been nice to hear more from them all.

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‘Behind the Scenes’ is one minute of B-roll footage showing the set up of two scenes. It’s a bit of a non-starter for a feature, as it is far too short and doesn’t actually explain anything.

There’s a theatrical trailer for the film and a trailer for a film called Fish Tank, also by Andrea Arnold.

Four years after the film gained accolades at the Scottish BAFTAS, it’s a shame that the film hasn’t been treated to a better collection of extras.

Film:

4 stars
Disc:
4 stars

Red Roadis out now on Blu-ray and available from the Den Of Geek Store.

Rating:

4 out of 5