Google+ Cinema Viewfinder: Movie Review: Red Riding: 1983 (2009)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Movie Review: Red Riding: 1983 (2009)

by Tony Dayoub

The weight of the past hangs heavily on top cop Maurice Jobson (David Morrisey). For years he has carried the guilt over his involvement with the renegade cops of the West Yorkshire Constabulary and their preference of expediency over thoroughness in the child abduction case of 1974. Now, with the case closed and the perpetrator in prison, another series of abductions (too similar to be pinned on a copycat) begins. And it is too much for this compromised public servant to bear.

Anand Tucker (Leap Year) presents the events of Red Riding: 1983 like a memory play. Impressionistic in its photography, elliptical in its explanations, and nonlinear in its chronology, this entry in the trilogy is the spiritual chapter after the visceral action of 1974 and the intellectual exposition of 1980. Apropos of its approach, it nominates three characters to form a sort of mystical trinity to shepherd the triptych to its conclusion.

Seeing as 1974's viewpoint is that of a reporter, and 1980's belongs to a cop, it would be easy to pin the perspective for 1983 on the attorney who brings us into this story, John Piggott (Mark Addy). But the complex storyline is as thorny in its telling as it is internally. One of the other unlikely heroes is the street hustling B.J. (Robert Sheehan), who seeks redemption for his silence about the abductions so far. The third participant in this trinity is Jobson, sidelined for the previous two parts but roused into action by an unlikely romance with an unusual oracle (Saskia Reeves).

The shifting narrative devices and protagonists serve to add ambiguity and a feeling of displacement in the viewer. The dislocation created by the unusual structure forces one to be less concerned with the procedural aspects so central to the last part, and instead hone in on the moral ramifications of Jobson's inaction, B.J.'s silence, and Piggott's deliberate ignorance. One becomes attuned to the state of mind of these three players as they each pursue the killer, and their repective redemption, in their own way.

The greatest compliment one can give to Tucker and Red Riding: 1983 is that after it is over one wants to see the trilogy all over again, not simply to figure out how all the pieces fit together, but to wallow in the dark atmosphere of this long-form piece of cinema one rarely experiences anymore.

Red Riding: 1983 is playing as part of the Red Riding: Special Roadshow Edition, today through February 11th exclusively at the IFC Center, 323 Sixth Avenue at West Third Street, New York, NY 10014, (212) 924-7771

It will also play February 14th, 17th, and 18th, at Landmark's Nuart Theatre, 11272 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Los Angeles, CA 90025,
(310) 281-8223.

It opens in select theaters nationwide on February 19th.

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Red Riding.

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