Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Red Riding Trilogy

In the Year of Our Lord - 1974:
Directed by: Julian Jarrold
Trilogy Written by: David Peace (novel) & Tony Grisoni

Grounded by a solid performance from Andrew Garfield, and a great supporting cast of Sean Bean, Eddie Marsan, and Rebecca Hall, 1974 is a beautifully shot introductory element to the trilogy. Setting the series in tone, and in narrative, it creates the starting point from which the other two films must follow.

The film's shining quality is how it blends plot, action, and character breakdown seamlessly. Capturing deep emotional struggles beneath, as each character tries to present their own uncaring to what's going on around them.

While it will provide some answers to the questions it presents, 1974 leaves you hooked, and begging for more. My one real complaint would lie in the middle in which the plot begins to drag before heading into a powerhouse of a finale. A finale which, quite honestly, saves the film several times over.

In the Year of Our Lord - 1980:
Directed By: James Marsh

In the context of the entire trilogy 1980 suffers from 3 problems. The first being that it is in many respects a stand alone story which provides some context which is later developed in the final installment. Secondly it lacks the beautiful imagery, and style, of the first and final installment. Lastly, there's just not enough depth there to make it gripping.

There's no hiding my enjoyment for watching Paddy Considine act, and here he brings some of his best acting to the forefront. As well you have lesser known British actors such as Sean Harris, Tony Pitts, Maxine Peake, and Warren Clarke stepping up to meet that level, giving 1980 one of the best all around performances of the trilogy.

1980 also benefits from having a rather quick paced plot with plenty going on. Lots of dealing with uncovering corruption, murder, and providing a bit of rounding out to some of the character's we've seen, but not known until now.

In the Year of Our Lord -1983:
Directed By: Anand Tucker

Perhaps the most visually surreal entry, 1983 does a brilliant job of tying together the loose ends left by 1974 and 1980. Linking the three films together in a story of redemption, and uncovering. Headlined by two strong performances by David Morrissey who spends the first two installments as a back ground character, and Mark Addy as a solicitor trying to prove the innocence of those accused of the lead in crimes.

Perhaps the most striking thing about 1983 is how those characters who merely served as background for the first two installments really come to light here. How much impact they really had on the plot development of the previous two films, and the crimes surrounding them. If nothing, I greatly enjoy how it all tied together, even if it isn't a perfect knot.

The only real issue I had with the plot lied in the heavy use of flashbacks. They were in many cases necessary, but not well blended, and towards the end it became hard to keep track of what time frame I was looking at. Luckily the placement of certain characters makes it a bit easier on the viewer.


As a whole you won't find many television movies as provocative, or indeed captivating, as this Red Riding trilogy. The acting is splendid throughout, and, while it never achieves an element of perfection, it certainly makes for a gripping weekend event.

4 better thoughts:

Alex said...

I loved this trilogy, and was so impressed with the production when I learned it was made for tv (I saw it in theaters, so I didn't realize at first). The second is actually my favorite, mainly for the performances and more gripping, fast-paced plot, though I understand it at first seems barely relevant to the other films. Good point about the third one- the flashbacks do get a bit confusing. I think the third was actually my least favorite, though it offered an interesting take on the overarching story itself, and I loved the idea of minor characters becoming primary characters.

Castor said...

On my to-watch list as I have heard so much great things about it. I certainly did not know it was made for TV.

Jason H. said...

Such a great trilogy. I'm actually kind of glad the end wasn't tied up in a neat little know; if it had, I think it would have cheapened the complex, reality-based feel of the films.

Simon said...

I think they take TV movies more seriously in England, right? I mean, here, it's all washed-up B-actresses screaming and getting divorced, but over there, they put effort into it. From what I've seen, anyway.

Beautiful films, really. Depressed the shit out of me, though.

I can't imagine Andrew Garfield doing this, then going back to teenaged roles. I just don't get it.

Related Posts with Thumbnails