Red Riding: 1980

<About the Red Riding Trilogy: The Red Riding Trilogy is a trio of films based on the novels of David Peace (The Damned United). The novels and films are a mix of fact and fiction centered around the disappearances of several young girls and the crimes of the actual Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, who killed 13 women from 1975-80 while eluding police. (Sutcliffe could, astonishingly, be released from prison two years from now.) The films reverberate significantly with one another, and are not designed to be stand-alone pictures, although the middle one could almost manage as a solo item. They are gritty explorations of brutal crimes, corrupt institutions, conspiracies, and the like. The style of the films bring to mind HBO’s The Wire, and David Fincher’s Zodiac because of the presence of unearthly serial killers, their brutal crimes, and extremely complex forensic plots. The trilogy originally aired in the UK and was quickly picked up by IFC for release in North America. See my review of Red Riding: 1974.

Red Riding: 1980 picks up six years after the end of the first film. The ‘ripper’ has continued to terrorize the communtiy of Yorkshire, and it seems the police are no nearer to catching him than the were in 1974.  The young journalist, Eddie (Garfield), that led the first story, is out of the picture.  This time, we follow a man named Peter Hunter (Paddy Considine).  Hunter is called to Yorkshire to conduct an internal affairs investigation of the local police force, concerning their actions and investigation surrounding the Ripper.  While the Ripper is ever present, he takes a backseat in 1980 so that the story can focus on Hunter.

1980 is directed by James Marsh of Man on Wire.  While Jarrold preferred filming in 16mm to keep a gritty edge, Marsh switched over to 35mm.  This crisper view allows the story to focus more on the characters, specifically, the isolation of Hunter, as he becomes increasingly uninvited as he slowly uncovers something much bigger than he is prepared to handle.  Added to his unfavorable situation are subplots involving a mostly infertile wife who recently miscarried, and an affair with a fellow office (Maxine Peake) whom he has placed on his small task force.  There are, of course, flashbacks to ’74, references to Eddie’s attempt at exposing everything.  The stories are very much connected.  In fact, a smaller character takes a much larger role in ’80, and ends up bringing things to a head at the trilogy’s finale.

While 1974 was certainly a solid film, 1980 shakes off all the small misteps of its prequel and finds a confident stride that allows it to be the only of the three that can stand as a film by itself.  Marsh’s ability to examine a character (so blatantly obvious in Man on Wire) steers this installment.  The tension that is so well built by the first film, continues to grow exponentially.  It will leave you dying to know what happens in the film chapter.

★★★★

Note: IFC originally intended these three films to be released in theatres in North America.  This still may be the case, but I’m guessing that since Ridley Scott has been confirmed to be making an American remaked, they won’t be shown.  If he turns this fantastic story into the tired, boring bullshit like his last films (see Body of Lies, Kingdom of Heaven, Hannibal, American Gangster, just check out his whole imdb page), I’m going to be very upset.

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