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 mother, 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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Strong on atmosphere and tone but the story-telling and characters feel rushed and lose impact as a result
The Red Riding films have been sitting recorded waiting for me to watch them for quite some time. I set the recorder at the time for them because of the praise they received and the number of well-known names in there, other than this I didn't know too much and didn't know the books they are based off. The plot sees a young journalist returning to northern England and picking up a story about a murdered girl who was found with swan wings sewn onto her back. The police seem to be content with the usual suspects but when he starts digging deeper he finds a world of police corruption and cronyisms, putting him in danger.
When I watched this film I tried to put the hype and critical acclaim out of my mind and just come to it as I found it. As such I was not overly impressed by it but did enjoy it for the grimness that it does well. The film does have an engaging sense of foreboding and toughness that suits the material and it delivers this aspect of it very well in terms of tone, locations, costumes and general feel. However, this is ultimately a story, not just atmosphere, and I was surprised that the film didn't deliver on this particularly well. I've never read the books but I do presume they are longer than this 90 minute film represents and I presume this because it seems like a lot is rammed in here and nothing really has much time to develop or grow before we're onto the next thing. This reduced the impact of the story for me because it did feel like I was being rushed through it rather than being allowed to move around within it. It isn't helped by it more or less going where you think it will go almost by virtue of how quickly it hands you everything, thus focusing on mind on certain characters and scenarios rather than allowing the bigger world to be a thing.
The cast do well even though so many of them seem to have a few minutes each. Garfield is solid in the lead even if he seems to spent a lot of the time just being beaten. Hall works well next to him but outside of these two the cast seem too deep in faces and not deep enough in screen time for them. So people like Marsan, Mercer, Bean, Mullan etc really don't feel like they are well used even if they are good in their moments. Everyone has a good accent but it is worth saying that to those not familiar with it, it may be difficult to always pick up what is being said – this is not just down to the thickness of the accents but the sound engineering here has lots of background noise and, for the sake of atmosphere I guess, seems to have lots of mumbling.
This first film has enough good about it for me to check out the second in the trilogy, but I hope it does better with the actual story telling part. In this case atmosphere and time/place was very well done but the story and characters felt rushed and the impact of the tale was lessened due to this, which is a shame.
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