Red Road (18) <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

Red Road is the location of a monstrous concrete high-rise in a rough part of Glasgow where writer-director Andrea Arnold's superb debut unfolds. Crime is endemic to this neighbourhood, whose streets CCTV operator Jackie (Kate Dickie) monitors on cameras for a private security firm. Nursing an unspecified grief, Jackie keeps loneliness at bay, just, with unsatisfying and irregular spurts of adultery. One night she spots the face of a man named Clyde (Tony Curran) on her screens; she knows he has just been released from prison, though not until the end do we discover his crime. Quietly, she tracks him on camera, then takes to stalking him in person. She can't understand how this jailbird seems to have moved on with his life while she's stuck in hers.

Not the least impressive aspect of this study in rage and remorse is the authority Arnold brings to the setting: late-night Glasgow, with its menace yet odd grace notes of kinship, is compellingly drawn, as are the two waifs (Martin Compston and Natalie Press) who attach themselves to Clyde. Arnold's engagement with the moral pitfalls of surveillance puts you in mind of other movies, including Rear Window, The Conversation, even Michael Haneke's recent Hidden.

Yet however various her influences Arnold has made a movie that's her own. It's also honestly sexual without being prurient or self-regarding. Dickie, with her tragic face, and Curran give outstanding performances, and deserve every award that comes their way. As does this film, the best made in Britain this year.

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