Monday, October 4, 2010

Short Review: Red Riding Trilogy - In the Year of Our Lord 1980 (2009)

In the Year of Our Lord: 1980 is the second film in the currently outstanding Red Riding Trilogy (2009), featuring impressive direction from James Marsh. Set in 1980, six years after the events of the first film. Chief Inspector Peter Hunter (Paddy Considine) leads a trio of investigators brought in to assess and assist the Yorkshire Police Department, already revealed but never convicted in the first film, to be a corrupt troupe of violent men, with the inquiry into the Yorkshire Ripper, who is still at large. With his most recent victim taking the unconfirmed number to thirteen and with a public outcry demanding capture, the West Yorkshire Captain brings in the esteemed but unpopular investigator. Before taking leave of absence years earlier, due to his wife’s miscarriage, Hunter had previously worked on the Karachi Club Massacre (featured at the climax of 1974), which left Officer Bob Craven (Sean Harris) and his partner seriously wounded. Craven is now one of the leading investigators on the Ripper case. Hunter sets to work, patiently reviewing the notes on each of the murders. When they discover that one of the more questionable murders may in fact be linked to a copycat killer; and later the off-duty activities of a corrupt detective and the Karachi Club, Hunter begins to question the methods and integrity of the leading officers in the case. Publicly rustling the feathers of these aggressive men, while covering up a secret affair and pregnancy with a colleague, Hunter uncovers a conspiracy linked to years of corruption, but ultimately finds himself an outcast and a target. Like 1974, this is a perfectly paced drama and brilliantly dialogued, with some sickening twists throughout. Shot in 35mm, the cinematography is beautiful and the score brilliantly haunting. It is grim and uncompromising viewing, but remains an extraordinary and totally engaging series. With some of the actors playing recurring roles from the first film, the performances are all spot on. But it is Paddy Considine’s confident demeanor, almost as powerful and memorable as Andrew Garfield’s Eddie Dunford, who completely commands the screen. The heartbreaking conclusion has me geared for the last installment (1983), which promises to provide complete closure, and solidify this trilogy as one of the decades most accomplished British dramas. Unlike 1974 (directed by Julian Jarrold), which can aptly stand alone as a near-masterpiece, 1980 requires you to watch the first film prior, but it works as a brilliant accompaniment.

My Rating: 4 Stars

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