Set in a scabby part of Glasgow, the Red Road of the title refers to a towerblock housing estate where much of the action takes place. Jackie (Kate Dickie) works in a CCTV control room, reporting crimes and keeping track of her favourite citizens, including a dancing late-night cleaning lady and a man with an incontinent dog. One night she spots a face she recognizes, one she wasn't expecting to see. Clyde (Tony Curran) has been released early from prison. Jackie begins to stalk him, but it is unclear how she knows him, what the nature of his crime was, and why she is putting herself in such danger. Martin Compston (who brilliantly debuted in Sweet Sixteen (2002)) is a schemie friend of Clyde's called Stevie, a role he plays particularly well.
The plot unravels slowly. We are never sure until the end about what went on before and how the characters are related to each other. It's creatively shot, much of it from what appears to be real CCTV cameras. They are intrusive, but the way Jackie watches out for her favourites is also affectionate, and it makes you realize how, in a violent city like Glasgow, they keep us safe. The director Andrea Arnold is a confident and proficient storyteller with an eye for colour and beauty in a bleak urban landscape.
Nugget: solidly acted, engagingly told thriller not afraid to show the scary sides of Glasgow. Doesn't exactly make me homesick.