The "Red Riding Trilogy" is a five-hour noir opus. Adapted from a series of novels by author David Peace, the trilogy explores the dark corners of Yorkshire, a once sleepy British province, torn asunder by corruption and crime.
The three films — which take place in 1974, 1980 and 1983 — follow three different protagonists. A young journalist (Andrew Garfield), a noble cop (Paddy Considine) and a crusading lawyer (Mark Addy), all of whom are swallowed up by the hopelessness and greed that has consumed Yorkshire. Sean Bean casts a long shadow over all three films as John Dawson, the real estate developer who funds the seedy activities that tear apart Yorkshire.
Starring:Andrew Garfield, Paddy Considine, Mark Addy, David Morrissey, Sean Bean
“Red Riding” opens with a young girl’s kidnapping and and moves through a series of grizzly serial killings. The trilogy depicts a series of heinous crimes covered up, forgiven and sometimes perpetrated by the institutions meant to protect the people that are being hurt. At several points in the films, the corrupt and powerful men of Yorkshire raise their glasses in a toast and proclaim, "To the North, where we do what we want." That mantra covers all manners of sins.
At one point one of the characters is asked if he would call the police if someone kicked in his door and threatened to kill his wife. "You mean if it wasn’t them that already kicked in my door?" the man deadpans.
The films’ three directors — Julian Jarrold, James Marsh and Anand Tucker — bring their own distinct visual styles to the separate films without detracting from the whole. Tony Grisoni’s screenplays deserve a lot of the credit. The screenplays have momentum and his spare style keeps the proceedings from becoming too overwrought and over the top. The material is so strong there is no need to ramp things up, and Grisoni understands that.
While all three films work separately, put together they take on a real power and resonance. Every loss and new betrayal builds until the despair and hopelessness becomes suffocating. Grisoni’s work builds a world as rich as James Ellroy’s Los Angeles in his "L.A. Quartet" or Dennis Lehane’s Dorchester.
Despite the fact that it’s five hours long, the trilogy feels a little rushed. The producers cut the 2nd novel, "Red Riding 1977" due to budget constraints and it sometimes shows. Some details seem to be missing and some characters’ motivations remain a bit too shadowy. But overall, the "Red Riding Trilogy" is an impressive achievement. The trilogy brings Yorkshire to life in all its grimy glory.
Five hours is a long time to spend in a movie theater. Sure, your butt gets a little numb and your eyes get a little bleary I know. But trust me — "The Red Riding Trilogy" is worth it.