In 1974, Eddie Dunford, comes home from South England and gets a job as a cub reporter for the Yorkshire Post. A schoolgirl has gone missing, and Eddie suspects it's one of several crimes dating back six years; the police think not and blame gypsies. Eddie digs; the police stonewall him then two of them beat him after he visits the widowed mother of one of the girls missing for a few years. When a child's body turns up at a construction site of local building magnate John Dawson, Eddie has another thread to pull. By now, he's begun an affair with Paula, the widowed mom, and he suspects collusion among Dawson, the police, and his newspaper - but what are they covering up? Written by
The title of the trilogy, "Red Riding", derives from two main sources - Yorkshire, the location of the crimes, and Red Riding Hood, the traditional tale. Yorkshire, a county of England, is divided into three sections or ridings. The action takes place in the West Riding. One of the girls who goes missing is wearing a red anorak or hooded jacket, and one of the attackers bears the nickname, Wolf. See more »
Little girl goes missing, the pack salivates. If it bleeds it leads, right? Eddie Dunford, crime correspondent, back home to take the north. Business first. Dad won't mind waiting.
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Don't let the 1974 fool you, this year merely indicates the time period in which this British crime drama is set. The first film of a trilogy, 1974 sets up the desolate Yorkshire town which has again been struck with the grizzly and brutal murder of a young girl. This makes her merely an entry in string of disappearances over the previous decade. Despite atmosphere thick enough to ski upon, this movie fails to offer much compelling and is a tough slog not only due to its grimy nature but also its convoluted narrative.
What begin with an investigation into a young girls disappearance, gives way to a murder, then to police corruption and bureaucratic cover-ups. Dropped squarely in the center is amateur journalist Eddie Dunford (Andre Garfield) whose combination of determination and coyness take him down a dark road. I will not even delve into the plot more than I have, as not only is it too complex to adequately lay out, but I am still trying to sort it all out myself.
While the performances are uniformly good, the characters are thoroughly unlikeable. Even our protagonist Eddie has a smarmy quality to him that makes it difficult for a real connection to be achieved. This is so with much of Red Riding: 1974, we are kept at arms length; never able to engage with any of the players nor the grief and depression the town is experiencing. Such is amplified further by the engrained ugliness at every corner which inhibits any discernible depth; everyone has demons, everything is wrong and nobody is happy. Thus, the instances of violence are muted by the grimness by which it is surrounded.
If you are really hankering for a dark tragic crime film starring Andrew Garfield, check out Boy-A; a supremely better and more resonant film. The highlight of the film for me was seeing Sean Bean again. His presence in films is an iota of what it should be and he gives one of the films best performances. Not having yet seen the following two instalments of this series I can not say with confidence this film will not be elevated when viewed in context. At this point, what I can say with confidence is Red Riding: 1974 was not an enjoyable experience. Perhaps, then, it was a success in its own right.
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