1974, Yorkshire. Investigating a child’s murder, young reporter Eddie Dunford (Garfield) stumbles across a link to a series of missing girls. When this brings him to John Dawson (Sean Bean), a local businessman trying to gain permission for a new shopping centre, Dunford finds evidence of high-ranking corruption which includes the West Yorkshire Police. Cocky and naive, he gets involved with the mother of one of the missing girls, Paula Garland (Hall) and ignores all warnings to leave the story alone, progressively getting himself deeper into dangerous territory…
A British crime drama hailed as “Yorkshire Noir”, Red Riding: In The Year Of Our Lord 1974 is the first of three TV movies based on David Peace’s four Red Riding novels. Dark, atmospheric and relentlessly grim, it’s a strong start to an ambitious trilogy series (each of which is written by Tony Grisoni but directed by a different filmmaker), melding real-life crimes with fictional plotting to engrossing effect. While reminiscent of David Fincher’s Zodiac in that we’re following a retro investigation of serial murders, the impeccable period setting recalls fellow ’70s-set show Life On Mars (Garfield even looks like he’s nicked Sam Tyler’s wardrobe), with all the claustrophobic interiors realised with an ale brown palette and grey smoke.
Boasting stylish gloom which Fincher himself might approve of, the grimy West Yorkshire location is a powerful character in its own right, while Julian Jarrold’s moody direction creates an appropriately bleak mood. Of course, we’ve seen the journalistic plot before – a reporter sniffs a conspiracy and delves deeper than safety dictates – but Andrew Garfield’s compelling central performance ensures that it’s worth watching. Well that, and a fantastic cast of British character actors, including David Morrissey, Warren Clarke, Peter Mullan, John Henshaw, Sean Harris, Eddie Marsan, Robert Sheehan and – best of all – Sean Bean. Okay, so it doesn’t have the most satisfying end, but there are two more parts to come…
Dark, atmospheric and relentlessly grim, Red Riding: In The Year Of Our Lord 1974 is a strong start to an ambitious trilogy of TV movies. The gloom is stylish, and Andrew Garfield is compelling in the lead.