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RED ROAD a film by ANDREA ARNOLD. 2006. UK/Denmark. 113 min. The Cannes Jury Prize-winning debut feature by the British auteur is a striking revenge thriller about a lonely CCTV operator.

This film screened exclusively for a week and is currently not available online.

To coincide with the premiere of the British auteur Andrea Arnold’s latest film Bird—currently in competition at Cannes—we’re excited to revisit her first feature. Her Dogme 95-influenced revenge thriller Red Road won the Jury Prize at Cannes in 2006,  marking a phenomenal debut from a filmmaker whose exploration of working-class life has proven consistently honest and daring.

 

Red Road revolves around Jackie (Katie Dickie), a lonely CCTV operator in Glasgow who stumbles upon the face of a man she wishes she could forget during a night shift. Dickie’s performance—equally anguished and cerebral—won her both a Best Actress Award at the Scottish BAFTAs and the British Independent Film Awards. The performance is not only a reflection of Dickie’s tremendous gifts as an actress, but also a testament to Arnold’s preternatural talent as an actors’ director whose collaborations with the likes of Katie Jarvis (Fish Tank, 2009), Kaya Scodelario (Wuthering Heights, 2011), and Sasha Lane (American Honey, 2016) have all resulted in tours de force for her leading ladies. The same can even be said about the eponymous mammal in Cow (2021).

 

 

“I try very hard to work from character and to make decisions, especially with the camera, that feel truthful to the story. […] I try very hard to trust myself. Filmmaking is a very long process with a lot of decisions, a lot of thought, but I still think within that, there’s the possibility of being instinctive. And that’s what I aim for.” ANDREA ARNOLD

 

Arnold’s debut film was intended as the inaugural entry in a trilogy of films about Scotland that were meant to feature the same characters and actors. Although the entire trilogy never materialized, the aesthetic influences of its brain trust—Lars von Trier’s production company Zentropa Films—are entirely on display in Red Road. This influence, which privileged handheld camerawork and visual asceticism, agreed with Arnold’s style of filmmaking, which also emphasizes naturalism to arrive at groundbreaking emotional moments.

 

Andrea Arnold was born in Dartford, England, in 1961. After studying at the American Film Institute, she directed three widely-acclaimed short films: Milk (1998), Dog (2001), and Wasp (2003). The latter won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short in 2004 and we screened it when Arnold’s teenage odyssey American Honey played in competition at the 69th Cannes Film Festival. In 2011, she was honored with an OBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for her services to the British film industry.

 

Text written by Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer.

Credits for
RED ROAD
cast
Natalie Press, Danny Dyer, Martin Compston, Kate Dickie & Tony Curran
produced by
Carrie Comerford, Gillian Berrie & Sisse Graum Jørgensen
written by
Andrea Arnold
cinematography
Robbie Ryan
edited by
Nicolas Chaudeurge
art direction
Helen Scott