Film Review: Red Road

There are some movies that just fall into your lfie without you ever really knowing why. I’m not even sure I actually watched the trailer the whole way through before deciding I wanted to watch Red Road. This was simple a case of being naturally drawn towards a film for reasons that cannot be explained, reasons that make no sense or have no understanding.

In fact, I tried to explain to somebody what Red Road was about a few days ago, before I had seen it, and all I could manage was lots of “I think…” and “I’m not 100% sure but…” type comments. And having now watched the film, my initial thoughts, my initial premise at a plot was a long way off the mark. So far from being centered that it makes the pull of the film on my life even more bizarre. But one I’m glad, existed.

The first thing to say is this film is an 18, and for once, it’s an 18 for a reason. It’s not gratuitous violence. It’s not pushing the boundaries of acceptability or anything like that, it is just a proper adult themed film which takes actions and emotions from deep, dark places and unfolds them on the screen before you. It’s a grown up story and it doesn’t try to hide that from you.

Having come into the film with a poorly preconceived idea as to the plot, which, of course, turned out to be wrong, I can actually say that the film I received was better than the film I wanted to expect. I think the reason for this is that, while the plot seems on the surface to be very basic, to be very singular in its direction and level, the thoughts and emotions it creates with regard the actions of the characters involved, and especially that of the lead Jackie (Kate Dickie) take you on a complete roller-coaster. You never once feel truly safe in where it is going and I can hand on heart say that it’s one moment of shock and awe, left me feeling emotionally sick while verging on the physically uncomfortable. And it’s been a long time since I film did that to me.

It should be noted though, that throughout the film, I kept thinking to myself that I knew where it was going, that I knew the driving force behind Jackie’s emotions, her reasoning for the actions she takes. As the film began to form a route, I kept thinking “ok, so this is a low-budget version of the ideas behind One Hour Photo” but it so, so isn’t. You have to wait for the introduction of Clyde (Tony Curran) to reveal the plots true direction, narrowing the world in which Jackie and the film exist and for the story to spiral in a totally opposite direction, a new emotional idea than the way you thought it was going.

Suddenly the film twists and turns away from the sensation of an outsider living within a forced and false world to one of despair, confusion, which then leads to one of almost syndromic sympathy. And it’s not until the singular action, the breaking of the glass that completely dispels this myth and leaves you suddenly understanding the true feelings behind Red Road, behind Jackie’s actions, and what gives this film such strength. Grief.

I’m still not 100% sure what drew me to this film to begin with if I’m honest. It’s a: gritty, real, hard, cold film that portrays the pain of life and loss with an assured vigor and energy that you feel in one respect it doesn’t have the right to wield so easily and yet on another, never once felt out of place or wrong.

This movie isn’t mainstream, it’s not something to stick on to pass 90 minutes before heading to bed or curl up with a loved one to watch. I’d say you have to have a pretty hard interest in films to sit down and watch it and it’s certainly not the type of film you could sit down to with a big bag of popcorn either. But what it is, is thought provoking. It’s designed to bring a hard life into your world, to stir at your emotions and linger on after the event. It’s designed to make you grieve. And that it does that in spades.

8 out of 10 stars (8 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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