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Non-Review Review: The Red Riding Trilogy

The Red Riding trilogy is a triumph of British television drama, and proof that the British channels are capable of producing home-grown drama that is of the highest possible quality. Demonstrating that HBO doesn’t hold complete dominion over quality drama, the Red Riding films were of enough quality to earn a limited theatrical release in the United States. I know that a high profile and commercial success isn’t a universal guarantee of quality, but it is certainly worth noting when discussing these three films exploring crime and corruption in the three “Riding” administrative zones. (For the record, the three zones are “North”, “East” and “West.” There is no “South”, which feels appropriate given the themes of the trilogy.)

Mingling fact and fiction into a head noir-ish cocktail, Red Riding is highly recommended for those who like bleak and sophisticated drama.

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Non-Review Review: Red Riding – The Year of Our Lord 1983

To the North, where we do what we want!

– Bill Molloy

It must be very tough to round off a trilogy of films, but Red Riding seems to possess more than its fair share of challenges. On top of the expansive cast and somewhat convoluted plot, this trilogy of adaptations for Channel 4 actually omits an entire story from the source material. David Peace wrote Red Riding as a four-book series, and yet there was only enough in the budget for a three-film adaptation. On top of that, the inevitable realities of pragmatic adaptation means that various characters have to be omitted and reworked and reconfigured so that the series of films makes sense on its own terms.

Red Riding: 1983 isn’t quite a flawless resolution to the trilogy, but it does enough things with enough skill that feels satisfying. A few contrivances feel a little awkward or cheesy, and some of the plot points feel a little too obvious and easy, but the cast and the characters are strong enough to carry this ambitious series past the finish line.

Good Jobson…

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Non-Review Review: Red Riding – The Year of Our Lord 1980

Talk to someone else!

There is no one else, they’re all %$#!ing dead!

– BJ and Hunter

Red Riding: 1980 isn’t quite as strong as its direct predecessor. In fact, it’s probably the weakest of the films in the trilogy. There are quite a few reasons for this, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth watching. For all its flaws as part of a continuing narrative, Red Riding: 1980 is still a fascinating tale of police corruption, and arguably the movie of the trilogy that works best as a standalone feature. Or, at least, better than it does as one connected narrative. Red Riding: 1974 depends on Red Riding: 1983 for an ending, and Red Riding: 1983 depends on Red Riding: 1974 for a beginning. Red Riding: 1980 sits in the middle, and serves as something of an example of the type of endemic corruption that has taken root in this version of Yorkshire.

Hunter on the prowl…

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