Sunday, February 28, 2010

Three of a Perfect Pair: Part Three

(Anand Tucker, UK, 2009, 100 mins.)

Click here for Red Riding: 1980

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From the start, Red Riding: 1983 does something the other installments don't: it circles back to the past, with an introduction set in 1974 (and will continue to double back to that annus miserabilis). Characters who met their maker in the previous films come back to life, and the focus shifts to David Morrissey's DCS Jobson, a figure previously seen floating around the periphery; never defined, always a rough outline.

Prodigal son Eddie Dunford and Manchester native Peter Hunter haven't yet entered the scene. The West Yorkshire P.D. is an insular, united entity. In throwing their weight behind Sean Bean's John Dawson, they aim primarily to rebuild their economically-deprived community--not find missing girls or solve grisly murders.

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Shooting with the Red One digital camera, Anand Tucker (Hilary and Jackie) then skips ahead to 1983 and to the search for 10-year-old Hazel Adkins. As before, the action centers on men looking for perpetrators, while the female victims are just a parade of names and faces, a common problem with procedurals: the police take precedence.

Even Law & Order bests most movies in providing them with some personality,
as each witness or suspect adds shading to our knowledge of the deceased.

If Jobson looks familiar, disheveled solictor John Piggott (Mark Addy), a former Fitzwilliam resident, does not (Yorkshire's poorest end up in grubby Fitzwilliam). As 1974 opened, Dunford had just lost his father. In Piggot's case, it was his mother.

Since then, the police have charged his mentally challenged neighbor, Michael Myshkin (Daniel Mays), with Clare's murder, but Piggot doesn't believe he did it.

With Michael behind bars, he couldn't have killed Hazel. Same goes for Martin Laws' friend, Leonard (An Education's Cara Seymour plays his mother). In both cases, the police coerced confessions, but it's too convenient for the two friends to be guilty.

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****
To the north, where we do what we want!
-- Bill Molloy (Warren Clarke)

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Other characters also come into play, like rent boy B.J. (Robert Sheehan), who sees things everyday people tend to miss, and a medium who strikes Jobson's fancy (and vice versa). In 1974, B.J. supplied Eddie with information about one of the murders.

When Jobson and Piggott, now representing the Fitzwilliam duo, finally meet, some progress seems inevitable, except progress is a relative term in the Red Riding Tril-
ogy. Assuming they crack the case, the collateral damage could be considerable, but both go it alone until the end. Like Dunford and Hunter before them, the detective and the lawyer are loners, and loners don't tend to make out well in Peace's world.

Piggott, who lives on takeout and old soul records, has less to lose than divorced
dad Jobson. Addy, who wasted his Full Monty fame on a Flintstones movie and a forgettable sitcom, does some of his best work here as a compassionate slob.

Grisoni's adaptation lends all four men a sense of tarnished dignity, providing parallels with the likes of Prime Suspect, Zodiac, Nicolas Winding Refn's Pusher
, and James Ellroy's L.A. Quartet. The way certain characters ebb and flow
throughout the series even recalls Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colors Trilogy.

Separately, the weaknesses of the films become most apparent, but collectively,
they tell a harsh tale about the ways in which people in positions of power ("wolves") abuse their weakest citizens in an attempt to pave over a community's ugly past.

Along the way, they perpetuate the cycle by creating new abusers. It's a bitter pill to swallow, but grippingly told. And it's not as if this sort of thing couldn't happen again.

See it now before Ridley Scott's remake, scheduled for The Year of Our Lord: 2012.

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The Red Riding Trilogy plays the Northwest Film Forum from 2/26 - 3/4. Nineteen Eighty-Three screens Tues. and Wed. at 9pm and Thurs. at 9pm The NWFF is lo-
cated at 1515 12th Ave. between Pike and Pine on Capitol Hill. For more infor-
mation, please click here or call 206-829-7863. Images from IFC Films.
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