Red Riding: 1983
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, and Red Riding: 1980.
The conclusion of The Red Riding Trilogy, directed by Anand Tucker (Leap Year, Shopgirl), is no less gripping that 1974, or 1980. Although it does lack just a bit compared to ’80. The story follows two characters, one we’ve met before. Another girl has gone missing, and Detective Chief Superintendent Maurice Jobson (David Morrissey) notices some striking similarities to the ’74 abduction, and is now grappling with the fact he may have convicted the wrong man, a mentally handicapped boy named Michael, played by Daniel Mays. The second character is an attorney that is convinced to take up Michael’s appeal, played by Mark Addy (I can’t tell if I just don’t like him because of that horrible TV show he was in, or if he really isn’t a great actor). It seems that both ’80, and ’83 could have benefited from a strong femme fatale character, like Rebecca Hall provided in ’74. There’s a dearth of healthy sexual tension here. It’s not hugely distracting, but it could have provided a new dimension to our two male heroes.
Tucker’s direction is a tad distracting here, there are definitely the same melancholy notes (accompanied with similar music) that we saw in Shopgirl. Although this may very well be the only way to handle the script, since it heavily relies on flashbacks, and cuts to the previous films to tell its story. There are also a number of scenes so beautifully shot, they could have been pulled out of a fantasy film for their surrealism. I’d provide screenshots, but it’d give too much away. 1974 was shot in 16mm, 1980 was upgraded to 35mm, and 1983 is actually shot in high definition, which allows for some fantastic close ups and lighting.
This film is certainly appealing for its promise to wrap up everything. Saying this series is dense is an understatement. It seems, however, that quite a bit was cut out of the script for whatever reason (probably time), and so you think that everything will be explained here, and it’s not. Don’t get me wrong, things get settled, but I have loads of questions I’d like answered that I fear will never be unless I read Peace’s books–repeat viewings can explain what’s not there. Overall, this is a solid finish to a great story, now don’t fuck it up, Ridley.