The Pleasant Familiarity of Red Riding: 1974

12/29/2010 1:56 PM |

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The Best Of lists are finished; the polls, voted in. But Henry Stewart is still scrambling to catch up with some of the movies he missed in 2010, at least so he can tell you whether to bump them up in your queue or feel guilt-free for deleting them. Today, he discusses Julian Jarrold’s Red Riding: 1974, which he was pleasantly surprised to learn not only stars Andrew Garfield, but features a supporting turn from Eddie Marsan!

As an archetype, the private detective is a relic—even for stories set in the early ’70s. The closest we come in this age is The Investigative Journalist, which is why, in Red Riding: 1974, it’s the scruffy cub reporter (Andrew Garfield) for The Yorkshire Post who takes the Marlowe-grade beatings and torturings from crooked cops when he gets Too Close To The Truth.

Director Jarrold frequently shoots his Zodiac-reminiscent installment, the first of three parts that form a miniseries, as though through a honeycream filter, capturing Garfield as he digs into a string of missing girls, comes up against regionalist obstructions, and uncovers local corruption involving a developer—and pillar of the community. If that reminds you of, say, Dale Cooper, Laura Palmer and Ben Horne, it’s because the mystery in 1974 is of the familiarly structured sort. (When one of Garfield’s co-workers/friends is murdered, it smacks strongly of Miles Archer.) But a well-paced mystery like this is something we ought always to cherish—particularly when it’s lighted so goldenly.