Saturday, April 16, 2011

RED RIDING: IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD 1974 (Julian Jarrold, 2009, UK)

It is not Justice, but the search for Justice; to navigate blind through the litter strewn morality of powerful men where money weighs more than human flesh. The first installment of the trilogy focuses upon a young and resourceful journalist Eddie Dunford, nicknamed Scoop, and his quest for the Holy Brail; a story that even those blind can see.

Eddie is convinced that there is a link in the disappearance of three local children and soon connects the dots between a wealthy businessman and the Yorkshire police; from child rape to police torture, the churning bowels of poverty to an exclusive club haunted by the rich and infamous. The entire film’s color palette is desaturated to subliminally impart a vintage atmosphere, to transport the viewer back in time: the effect is startling and absolute, shocking in its overt violence: this is TAXI DRIVER meets ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN!

As Eddie follows his leads and facts, he uncovers desiccated secrets that turn his naive world into a charnel house; one where his best friend dies “accidentally” after an ambiguous warning from a deranged woman. Eddie is a journalist that is offered material paradise but decides to keep his soul even though the world around him is ruled by demons in human form, and the children are fallen angels with broken wings, baptized in violence. But Eddie’s fault is not in reporting the story, but in becoming part of it. He soon crosses the ethical boundaries (blurred, to be sure!) and becomes involved with Paula, the mother of one of the missing girls. Unfortunately, she is participant and victim to Dawson, the businessman who seems to own most of Yorkshire (and its professionals), and his fate reeks of gunpowder and revenge.

Director Julian Jarrold utilizes close-ups and wonderful compositions to impart crucial information through mis-en-scene, through rain streaked windows or clever focus-pulling, allowing the environment to speak through its soft whisper, expunging needless exposition and inane chatter between characters. Jarrold streamlines the narrative towards its bloody climax, where the results explain the opening scene. The tiny world of Yorkshire becomes a prescient political dogma in this future age, where money equates to power, and good people who deny responsibility are condemned with the wicked. Here, the meek shall not inherit the Earth…they abandon it.

Final Grade: (A)

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