Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Red Riding: 1980

Based on David Peace’s Red Riding Quartet about the Yorkshire Ripper Murders, Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1980 is the second part of a trilogy of films about the investigation of the murders. Directed by James Marsh and screenplay by Tony Grisoni, the film is about a police officer who begins the investigation of the murders that is continuing to happen. It is there he finds resistance from the Yorkshire police as he goes further into the corruption that is surrounding the force. Starring Paddy Considine, Jim Carter, Sean Harris, Maxine Peake, Warren Clarke, and David Morrissey. Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1980 is a compelling crime drama from James Marsh.

It’s 1980 as the Yorkshire Ripper killings continue as pressure mounts on the Yorkshire police force. The West Yorkshire Constabulary bring in Peter Hunter (Paddy Considine), an investigator from Manchester, to lead the investigation. With help from John Nolan (Tony Pitts) and Helen Marshall (Maxine Peake), Hunter takes charge of the investigation as he’s under watch from Harold Angus (Jim Carter) who puts Bob Craven (Sean Harris) to assist them. Craven remains evasive as Hunter asks Nolan and Marshall to look into the stories of the victims as Marshall learns about a woman named Clare Strachan (Kelly Freemantle) who was killed in 1977.

Hunter wants more questions as he believes something isn’t right while he’s haunted by the fact that he had previously been part of an investigation over a nightclub massacre six years earlier. Hunter remembers Craven from that investigation who was one of the survivors along with another officer in Tommy Douglas (Tony Mooney). Believing there’s a link between the Ripper murders and the nightclub massacre, Hunter tries to ask Douglas while he gets some answers about Strachan from a male prostitute named BJ (Robert Sheehan) and Reverend Laws (Peter Mullan) who introduces him and Marshall to Mrs. Hall (Julia Ford). Mrs. Hall provides answers about her late husband and Clare who was possibly murdered by a copycat.

With Marshall dealing with personal issues, Hunter tries to figure out why she’s talking to Laws as he continues the investigation. After talking to a couple of investigators Prentice (Chris Walker) and Alderman (Shaun Dooley), Hunter learns that something isn’t right as he confronts Maurice Jobson (David Morrissey) about what side he’s on. Things get worse for Hunter as he and his wife (Lesley Sharp) returned home from a Christmas party when he loses his home to a fire. Believing something is going on as a man has been captured for the murders, Hunter learns something from BJ about the night of the nightclub murders. Realizing that one of the survivors know who were involved, what he discovers is something far more terrifying.

In this second part of a trilogy of films about the Yorkshire Ripper murders, it’s the story of a man trying to keep the investigation going only to find loose ends over a previous investigation he was part of and why it’s connected to the corruption from within the police force. During this investigation, he’s dealing with his own issues including feelings for a fellow cop with whom he used to go out with. At the same time, he recalls his own investigation at the nightclub shooting which he had to leave for personal reasons. Yet, Peter Hunter is a man that is flawed but also trying to do the right thing as he even begins to confront the men he believe are responsible for making things complicated. Tony Grisoni’s script definitely weaves its way as it brings in characters from the previous film to maintain continuity but also uses flashbacks to emphasize Hunter’s yearning to solve the case.

Director James Marsh creates a different film than its predecessor for creating a look that is broader and more polished as he films it in 35mm with a theatrical aspect ratio of 2:35:1 for widescreen. Yet, he maintains the suspense of the first film but it’s more restrained as it’s all about trying to figure out this murder that was supposedly done by a copycat and its connection to the nightclub murders. Marsh’s direction is entrancing and brooding for its suspense while creating eerie angles and shots to create the sense of dread throughout the film. The overall direction is definitely phenomenal as Marsh creates something that is engaging and harrowing.

Cinematographer Igor Martinovic does an excellent job with the film‘s chilling yet dark photography. Shot mostly with dark blue colors for the daytime scenes with naturalistic but brooding lighting for the nighttime scenes. Notably the scenes on location at West Yorkshire as it creates something that is unsettling and eerie. Editor Jinx Godfrey does a fantastic job with the editing where he adds a bit of style by including a few jump-cuts for some intense, surreal scenes while a lot of it is mostly straightforward.

Production designer Tom Burton and art director Sami Khan do a great job with the look of 1980 Yorkshire with the cars and clothes worn that is less stylish than its predecessor along with objects to reflect the new decade that was the 80s. Costume designer Charlotte Walter does a good job with the costumes by toning down the style for something more casual and refined as it reflects the dark mood of the film. Sound editor Paul Davies does a superb job with the sound work to convey the tense atmosphere of the locations as well as silence that underscores the suspense. The music score by Dickon Hinchliffe does an incredible job with the film’s somber yet hypnotic score filled with melodic guitars and pianos meshed with a low, screeching orchestra to play up the suspense of the film.

The casting by Nina Gold is wonderful for its large ensemble cast as it features appearances from Eddie Marsan in a flashback scene as the sleazy journalist Jack Whitehead, James Fox as a local politician, Peter Mullan as Reverend Law, Robert Sheehan as BJ, Kelly Freemantle as Clare Strachan, and Lesley Sharp as Peter’s wife. Other notable small appearances include Warren Clarke as Bill Molloy, Jim Carter as Harold Angus, Tony Mooney as Tommy Douglas, and David Morrissey in a slightly bigger role as the quiet Maurice Jobson. Julia Ford is very good as Mrs. Hall, a former hooker whose husband was a pimp as she gave Hunter evidence while Sean Harris is excellent as the secretive Bob Craven. Chris Walker and Shaun Dooley are superb as two corrupt investigators who are part of the cover-up as they bring an intimidating presence while Tony Pitts is wonderful as Hunter’s longtime partner John Nolan.

Maxine Peake is very good as Hunter’s partner Helen Morris, a woman who finds herself dealing with personal issues as she becomes a bit evasive towards Hunter though she is aware that he still has feelings for her. Paddy Considine is brilliant as Peter Hunter, an investigator trying to finish the nightclub shooting incident investigation he was given six years before while trying to uncover the link between the murder of a young woman. It’s a powerful performance from Considine that is also very restrained as a man trying to do what’s right only to get himself in extreme danger.

Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1980 is a chilling yet provocative film from James Marsh. Featuring a superb performance from Paddy Considine, it is a film that maintains the intrigue of its predecessor while paving the way for the climatic conclusion in the third film. Audiences that love mysteries will no doubt enjoy this as a smart yet exhilarating crime film. In the end, Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1980 is a powerful film from James Marsh.

© thevoid99 2011

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