Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Queue Continuum: The Red Riding Trilogy

There is a lot of great stuff that is relatively new out there on the Netflix Instant Queue, but I don't know that much of it is as good as the Red Riding Trilogy.

Based on British author David Peace's Red Riding Quartet (1977 was skipped for the purpose of the adaptations), the trilogy was produced by Channel 4 but released theatrically stateside last spring. The three parts are somewhat different, as each is directed by a different director and features a different protagonist.  

Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1974 is directed by Julian Jarrold, who has recently helmed Kinky Boots, Becoming Jane, and Brideshead Revisited and stars Andrew Garfield, Rebecca Hall, and Sean Bean. Soon-to-be superstar Andrew Garfield plays Eddie Dunford, a Yorkshire Post crime beat reporter who begins to look into a series of murders of young girls. As one of the girls turns up on the construction site of John Dawson's (Bean) future shopping mall, Eddie begins to look into Dawson as well. The deeper the investigation goes, the more dangerous things get for Eddie, and it soon becomes clear that there is a level of corruption within the local government and law enforcement communities of which he is just scratching the surface. Eddie continues down the rabbit hole, and it is a stark voyage that gets bleaker at every turn. 

Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1980 is a James Marsh joint (director of Wisconsin Death Trip and Man on Wire) and features Paddy Considine as the lead investigator looking into the Yorkshire Ripper case. He is met with resistance by the corrupt West Yorkshire police department that he had previously externally investigated. Well, 'met with resistance' is putting it far too lightly. If you thought the first part was disturbing, wait until you dive into this one. As the level of corruption is shown to be more and more pervasive, hope diminishes to minuscule portions.

By the time Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1983 opens, the only safe bet is that it will be harrowing. With the auteur of Shopgirl and Hilary and Jackie having taken the reigns, the transition is seamless. Returning to the case covered in the first part, we follow a remorseful detective Maurice Jobson (David Morrissey) and a beleaguered lawyer (Mark Addy of The Full Monty and CBS' Still Standing) who is implored to field an appeal by the mother of the simpleton pegged for the murders of the young girls from the first film.

All three parts work exceptionally well by themselves, but as a whole they are fantastic. There is corruption at every turn with those entrusted to protect being the most dangerous. Perhaps swallowing such a grotesque level of pervasive depravity is unreasonable, but it is probably naive to believe that those in power aren't simply looking out for their best interests. The Red Riding Quartet was a dramatized and fictionalized account of actual events. Obviously, liberties were taken. In the end though, the verity of the story being told isn't the issue. Are the films good? Oh, hell yes.

Weird Post-Script: I somehow neglected to mention this despite the fact that I had intended to, but holy shit is the Yorkshire accent hard to muddle through. I know for a fact that one of my friends got about two minutes into the first one before re-starting with subtitles. Apparently that did not help all that much, as the vernacular used in 1973 West Yorkshire may as well be Greek. Do not be deterred. The fact that you may not understand everything that is happening will not negate the power of the films at all.


qualler said...

Awesome. The wife and I keep meaning to watch this/these on our Queue. I look forward to watching them.

KRD said...

Weird. I got all cracked out on this and watched the whole thing the weekend before Winter term started. I advise your other read\ers not to watch them all in one day. It is hard to reenter the world after a day of British police corruption.

Old Man Duggan said...

All - I added a post-script after the trailer in the post.

@ qualler - Obviously, I was a fan.

@ KRD - It definitely makes you leery of weaselly mustachioed gingers. I've thrust my hands into my pockets every time I've come across one.

KRD said...

I think that I would listen to a band called "Weaselly Mustachioed Gingers."

I read other comments on this film that complained about the accents--I didn't have a problem with them at all. There is plenty of context.

Josh Duggan said...

@ KRD - I don't know that I had a problem with them, per se. But there was a point at the club where Sean Bean was eating and grunted something at Andrew Garfield that I rewound it maybe five times before giving up on trying to figure out what he said. It can all largely be inferred by context, but still it is the language that I speak...

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