Jackie Morrison (Kate Dickie) is a surveillance camera operator in Glasgow, observing a bleak public housing cluster. When she recognises Clyde Henderson (Tony Curran), a dark secret is unleashed and she is aghast that he has been freed before his 10 year prison term has expired. Feeling compelled to confront him, despite never wanting to have seen him again, Jackie maneuvers herself into his narrow orbit and undertakes a plan that is meant to put him back behind bars.

An impressive and compelling thriller.

When writer/director Andrea Arnold won the Oscar for her short film Wasp we all knew she was a talent to watch out for – and she is! Her debut feature film, Red Road, took out the 2006 Jury prize at the Cannes’ Film Festival.

Arnold cleverly holds the audience at arms length for most of the film

Jackie works in a police observation centre called City Eye. Hundreds of monitors are trained on parts of Glasgow, with a view to protecting its citizens.

With a distinctly Big Brother flavour, Jackie, using a keyboard and joystick, effortlessly moves in for close ups to follows whichever scenario takes her fancy. Her domain is the apartment block that houses ex-criminals, known as Red Road.

By chance Jackie notices Clyde, a man she thought she would never see or have to deal with again. However, as her need to survey him intensifies, she leaves the safety of the monitors and enters Clyde’s world.

Arnold cleverly holds the audience at arms length for most of the film. Jackie’s motives for following Clyde are never blatant. Details of her personal life are revealed slowly, creating an enormous amount of intrigue and suspense.

A lot of credit must also go to celebrated television actress Kate Dickie, whose performance as the sombre and lonely Jackie is terrific. I could never tell what she was thinking or what she wanted from Clyde.

Tony Curran is impressive in what is a difficult role. His Clyde is charming and dangerous, as we view him through Jackie and the monitor’s eye.

Writer/director Andrea Arnold is a talent. Her ability to depict a clear and engaging story visually and not rely on dialogue is masterful.

Unfortunately though, the film was at its best when the audience was left guessing. When all the loose ends were tied up, it was all just a little too neat.

This is still compelling stuff, 4 stars.