Why Don’t We Do it in the Road?

 Lava, Lava

OK, admittedly it’s late at night, but Fiona’s safely abed with a cold, there’s no chance of interruption, SURELY I can finish watching Andrea Arnold’s RED ROAD this time. I must be about halfway through it.

In episode three of this exciting serial, Kate Dickie is drawn closer still to the ex-con (Tony Curran) she’s been stalking. In fact, having submitted to a pawing at a party round at his flat, she’s working up to a full-fledged seduction.

The film’s third sex scene is something of a departure for Scottish cinema, since it seems to be both consensual and, to a degree, pleasurable for the participants. Not necessarily for the audience, mind you, but let’s not get carried away with hibernian joie de vivre here. More beautiful photography is deployed (night-time views from a tower block are a gift to digital cinema), though I’m uncertain about the cut-aways to a gently burbling lava lamp during the actual coitus — it seems somehow comical. But the shots themselves are v. pretty.

Mario Lava

The semi-pleasurable sex (very explicit, very unromantic, kind of squalid and horrible to watch, but photographically nice at times) fits in with the general vibe — this is post-RATCATCHER Scottish miserabilism. Lynn Ramsay’s sullen wallow of a film departed from the social-realist vibe of the Loach imitators with flights of fancy, like a mouse landing on the moon by balloon — only a moment, but it lifts the thing out of straight realism. The new flavour is more “artistic”,  in the sense that poverty must be rendered aesthetically pleasing, less political, but just as dour. (Lynn Ramsay = Tarkovsky with deep-fried Mars Bars.)

Curran’s chat-up line, in which he speculates frankly as to the flavour of Dickie’s genitals, and his description of her as “that bird with the nice arse” seem to have won her over, and the sex scene goes off without a hitch, nobody gets beaten or covered with custard (thank you, YOUNG ADAM, for that enduring image of Caledonian loveplay) and everybody seems to have as good a time as they’re capable of, within the generic constraints.

Then Dickie walks out on Curran, goes to the bathroom, and does something horrible involving bodily fluids.

And to think, I’d been invited round to one of my student’s flat to watch an evening of films about MINING.

Time for bed. I’ll finish this tomorrow. I’ll admit I’m intrigued as to what she’s up to, though. But I can’t help feel that by holding back Dickie’s whole motivation, Arnold has effectively shut the audience out of the film. I have more sympathy at present with the rather vile Curran character, because I share his puzzlement. It’s hard to share anything with Dickie as she’s such a closed book. But I expect all this to be cleared up, and that may justify everything.

Songs For Swingin Lavas

Apart from the lava lamp, which needs no justification.

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