“To the North, where we do what we want!”
This week, I take a look at the last in the Red Riding Trilogy, 1983. You’ve stuck with me through 1974 and 1980, so let’s close this out by jumping ahead three years to close out this bleak and harrowing tale.
It’s 1983 and another young girl has gone missing in Yorkshire from the same primary school as one of the girls found murdered in 1974. Surely, it can’t be a coincidence, or so thinks Detective Inspector Maurice Jobson (David Morrissey). Jobson (who has been a link through all three movies) begins to investigate the similarities between this latest disappearance with all the other children taken back in 1974. Jobson has a lot of explaining to do himself because he has been in on the corruption and cover-ups going on with the Yorkshire police from the start. He’s been wracked guilt all these years. After all, Eddie Dunford (Andrew Garfield) gave him a treasure trove of evidence about the murders back in 1974 and all Jobson did with it was chuck it in a fire. He could’ve stopped everything back then but kept his mouth shut at the promise of big money from land developer John Dawson (Sean Bean).
Michael Myshkin (Daniel Mays), who has the mental capacity of a 10-year-old, confessed to the murders and the kidnapping of the girls and has been in prison all this time. Myshkin’s mother asks her neighbor, a solicitor named John Piggot (Mark Addy), to go see her son in prison in hopes of appealing his case. Piggot, who happens to be the son of a cop who worked on the Yorkshire police force, reluctantly goes along to see Myshkin, who tells Piggot he didn’t kill anyone. He says he was told by the police that if he didn’t confess to the murders, he’d never see his mum again. Piggot becomes convinced Myshkin is innocent and investigates further.
Meanwhile, Leonard Cole (Myshkin’s best friend and the person who found the dead girl from 1974) was picked up for the disappearance of the latest girl. He’s beaten up by Bob Craven (Sean Harris) in the presence of Jobson, who eventually leaves because he cannot stand to see the torture any more. At the same time, Cole’s mother asks Piggot to go down to police headquarters to see her son and represent him. Piggot goes down to the station but is turned away. He knows something very wrong is going on with the Yorkshire police and wants to get to the bottom of everything before he finds himself on the deadly end of things with the police. Jobson finds out Piggot is looking into things after a visit with Myshkin himself and finally decides to end things once and for all.
This final installment, like the other two, has some really outstanding performances. David Morrissey is fantastic as the guilt-ridden Jobson. He’s been in on or had knowledge of all the corruption going on with the Yorkshire police and has just been going along with everything. Mark Addy, who I’d only seen in comedies, does fine work here, too. Sean Harris, again, is straight up frightening as Bob Craven.
Each part in the trilogy is bleak as fuck in its own way. This last one seems especially harrowing because you know it’s got to come to an end so the build up towards the final scenes is palpable. Each of the three movies are directed by someone different; 1974 was shot in 16mm by Julian Jarrold, 1980 was shot in 35mm by James Marsh, and 1983 was shot on the Red One by Anand Tucker. Even though they were shot with different techniques, they all have the same style and look as though they could’ve been shot by the same person. They all nail the period look of the time. If you haven’t watched any of the films yet, I would suggest you watch them all in the same day. The impact is much stronger when watching them back-to-back. Trust me on this. You’ll come out the other end needing a strong drink (or three) and a hot shower but it will be worth it because you’ll have witnessed one of best things ever to be put on British television.
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