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"Red Road"

Directed by Andrea Arnold.
Written by Andrea Arnold.
Starring Katie Dickie and Tony Curran.
Release Year:  2006
Review Date:  1/30/07


From the jump, "Red Road"--screening in the International Film category here at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival--was blah.  I should have known when the Sundance programmer who introduced the film used words like "patient style" and "ethereal" that this was code for "slow and boring to start."

The first hour of the film was so slow that I was amazed to still be awake by the time it began to gain some momentum.  The second half is certainly stronger than the first, but will you hang around long enough to make that worthwhile?  "Red Road" follows a CCTV surveillance officer named Jackie (Katie Dickie); we learn that for the last few years, Jackie has been mourning the loss of her husband and daughter in a tragic auto accident.  One night while working--Jackie spends most of her time watching quiet storefronts and common passers-by--Jackie realizes that the man responsible for her family losses, Clyde (Tony Curran), has been released early from prison on good behavior and now lives in the neighborhood that Jackie watches on a nightly basis.  She becomes obsessed with finding out more about this man and how to get him back off the streets.

The first hour of the movie, I'm not kidding, I was barely making it during "Red Road."  This was a mix of 1) this being my fourth movie of the day, and it was only 6 PM, and 2) the movie's "patient style" made for some really tough times as I tried to keep up with the nothingness happening onscreen.  Watching Jackie watch Clyde is an exercise in pain.  But, a few things develop to create some empathy for Clyde, and this--combined with solid work from Dickie--makes "Red Road" a fine finisher with some excellent scenes and a couple of real eye-opening moments.  (And, being an unrated version of the film, there's no question that a couple of these scenes will be cut down or out altogether before it opens here in the States.)

Overall, the experience was a mixed bag and judging by how many people skipped the Q&A with director Andrea Arnold after the film screened, others seemed to be in my boat.  This one is a game-time decision!

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09