The first film in the trilogy of screen adaptations is set in 1974 and follows the story of a young journalist returning to his native West Yorkshire. As a cocky and ambitious reporter he quickly becomes embroiled in a story regarding three missing young girls in a time when newspapers were printed on Hovis and diabetes was treated with an honest pint of bitter (you soft ponce). Ostensibly this book/screenplay is concerned with the widespread local government and police corruption, and the journalist?s struggle to maintain his integrity while preserving his personal safety.
The landscapes are as beautifully crafted as any Andrei Tarkovsky title. The director has created a bleak, stark and hopeless vision of life in the West Yorkshire of the 70s. This credit goes to Julian Jarrold who has a background in crime dramas such as Silent Witness and Cracker, but also more recently period dramas Becoming Jane and Brideshead Revisited. He is probably best known for his work on the gritty hospital drama, Children?s Ward.
Obvious comparisons will be drawn between this and Life on Mars. While the latter was a very successful series and in many ways superb itself, it cannot compare to the depth of and multi faceted writing of Red Riding. However you do still get the cool 70s cars and a soundtrack provided by one of the better rock producing decades.
Based on titles in David Peace?s brilliant Red Riding series of novels, a total of three films have been adapted by Tony Grisoni, a co-writer of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. As such, the pedigree of writing is tremendous. It is still funny, despite excellent writing, how some previously profound proverbs seem to lose gravitas when they are said with a Yorkshire accent, ?the devil triumphs when good men do nowt.?
Despite our occasional difficulties with interpreting the regional dialect, Red Riding boasts an impressive cast who portray their characters impeccably. One to watch is relative newcomer Andrew Garfield as the lead role, journo Eddie Dunford. It is rare to witness a production where so many of the supporting actors are they themselves capable of leading on their own. You only need to look as far as Sean Bean (John Dawson) and Warren Clarke (Bill Molloy) for proof of this fact.
This isn't an especially easy piece of cinema to watch, it is slow moving to begin with but we're of the strong belief that the small amount of work it takes to keep giving it your attention is well rewarded by the end.