In Short: A Scottish Caché
Plot Outline: Jackie works as a CCTV operator (those security cameras all over the UK) in Glasgow. Leading a dull and senseless existence, one day she spots the blurred image of a man on one of her monitors, and something is shocked inside of her.
Trivia: This is the first feature film from Andrea Arnold, who won an Oscar for Best Short Film in 2005, which got lauded at Cannes with the Jury Prize and swept the Scottish BAFTAs. It also sports the feature debut of Kate Dickie, who plays the lead as Jackie. Produced by Danish Dogme company Zentropa, this is the first film in a planned trilogy with the same characters, developed by Lone Scherfig (Italian for Beginners) and Anders Thomas Jensen (Danish scriptwriter extraordinaire, also director of The Green Butchers), to be done by three short-filmmakers who haven’t worked with feature films.
The Good: This is an as grounded thriller as you’re likely to get. Not to say that nothing happens, but this ain’t a Hollywood thriller, and that’s a welcome. The similarities to Caché are more than just long sequences watching the actions of others through VHS tapes.There are small details in the background and unexplained things that you have to pay attention to, even if it’s not nearly as obtuse as Caché. The two main leads are strong as hell, really laying their characters with silences and sideway glances. Dickie especially is great as a woman uncomfortable in her own skin. It also has one of the better endings to a thriller I’ve seen lately.
The Bad: That ending is almost spoiled by the last half minute and credit song, unfortunately. The plot, though it keeps you guessing the first hour or so, the revelation doesn’t turn out to be a huge surprise if you’ve been paying attention. For those not comfortable with long stretches of silence, this is not the film for you.
The Ugly: There’s some full on full frontal nudity and one of the most intense (had to have been real) sex scenes I’ve seen in ages. This being sponsored by the Danish, it’s shaky camera, even if it’s one of the more beautiful instances of shaky camera I’ve seen in some time, despite Glasgow looking like a pretty depressing place.
Recommended to: Definitely something to watch if you’re of the art-house crowd. Well worth a rental if you want a good, down-to-earth thriller with no bullets fired. Sensitive or impatient viewers should think twice, though.