For those who missed their distributors’ thirty-second media blitz last year, these neo-noir films are the real deal. Three films, all directed by different directors—the first shot on 18mm, the second on 35mm, and the last using a Red One digital camera—focusing on murder and corruption in Yorkshire, England, including the Yorkshire Ripper case. Though marginally interrelated, each film stands alone but isn’t quite as engaging without picking up on traces of the previous films travails. The films are based on the books from David Peace’s Red Riding Quartet entitled 1974, 1977, 1980, and 1983, though ’77 was dropped for the adaptations.
To say these films are gritty is putting it lightly, as each instilled in me a recurring urge to dust my television and clean beneath my fingernails. And especially while watching the first film, I was quite thankful for the subtitles feature, as the Yorkshire accent aped by such actors as Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings, Troy) and Andrew Garfield (The Social Network, Never Let Me Go) isn’t just thick but miasmic. Not that you really need to understand every bit of dialogue, as the films are more about atmosphere and the fatalism that pervades this northern English community than plot, but I’m sorta prickly about exacts, in these types of films always wanting to know to what every malevolent thread is attached—who’s strumming it on one end and who’s bleeding on the other.
Overall, these films are wonderfully unforgiving, and like the classic noirs of the Forties, you can wish for a happy ending all you want (I know I still can’t completely keep myself from doing so), but in the end you know it has nothing to do with the luck of the draw, as there never was any in the deck to begin with.