This was a big hit in England and never really had the same resonance here despite praise early in the year from critics like Roger Ebert. The three films are based off a quartet of crime novels by David Pence. The entire story stretches just under a decade with different characters taking the lead and others falling into the background. What makes this set a treat is that they were all filmed at the same time so the actors are the same, but the directors are different.
The first film is called Red Riding – 1974. It was directed by Julian Jarrold (Kinky Boots, Becoming Jane, and Brideshead Revisited). This has the coolest visual style to it. It’s bleak, but the camera is always moving in unpredictable paths. Andrew Garfield (The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and he’ll be the next Spider-Man) plays a young North of England Crime Correspondent. He quickly theorizes that the recent kidnapping may be tied to older unsolved ones. Following leads he goes up against difficult characters played by brilliant actors like Eddie Marsan (Happy-Go-Lucky), Rebecca Hall (Please Give), and Sean Bean (The Lord of the Rings). The movie is incredible tense and is extremely well plotted. Garfield is pitch-perfect as a boy who becomes obsessed with this crime.
The next film jumps to Red Riding – 1980. This one is more from the eyes of the police department. Paddy Considine (Hot Fuzz, The Bourne Ultimatium) is personally brought in to investigate a murder that is worrying a lot of officials. The more he works on the case, the more difficult it is from within the department. This movie is directed by James Marsh who is best known for his amazing documentary Man on Wire. This one is more of an actor’s movie than a visual one, which works because Considine can easily carry a movie.
The final film, Red Riding – 1983, is difficult to describe because it focuses on the loose ends from the previous films. This movie brings David Morrisey (Doctor Who’s “The Next Doctor” and BBC’s State of Play) more into the foreground as he becomes regretful over choices he’s made in the past. Mark Addy (A Knight’s Tale, Robin Hood) also is looking into…something but from the perspective as a lawyer. Anand Tucker (Shopgirl, Leap Year) is the director in charge of wrapping everything up and he does a very good job as well. His level of suspense is more towards silence, which makes you very anxious to hear what the next line of dialog is.
My biggest fear going into this set would be that the films couldn’t stand on their own. Thankfully each of them has a distinct story arc that allows all of them to be satisfying. Like the Dragon Tattoo series, these movies treat the audience with intelligence and don’t rely on past clichés to tell its dark story of disgust and obsession. Together the films tell a complete and ambitious story that is expertly crafted.
The extras are disappointing, but that is expected from the IFC sets. Each disc has a brief interview or making of that is as brief as it is interesting. There are also a few deleted scenes. Also each DVD has the same set of trailers before getting to the menu…which includes the other two Red Riding films. Don’t show me a trailer for a sequel I want to watch! The trilogy is available on DVD, Blu-Ray and Netflix Instant.
1974 – 4.5 Yaps
1980 – 4 Yaps
1983 – 4.5 Yaps
Extras – 2 Yaps
Red Riding Trilogy – 4.5 Yaps