Red Riding: The Year of Our Lord 1983 (2009)

red riding the year of our lord 1983 poster 2009 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Ending to a good series worthy of rewatching

Least compelling entry

Movie Info

Movie Name: Red Riding:  The Year of Our Lord 1983

Studio: Channel 4

Genre(s): Mystery/Suspense/Drama

Release Date(s):  February 28, 20009 (Premiere)/March 19, 2009 (UK)

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

red riding the year of our lord 1983 mark addy daniel mays

Dang it…I just want a simple case

Solicitor John Piggott (Mark Addy) discovers himself brought in regarding the disappearance of a girl named Hazel Atkins which could exonerate mentally handicapped serial killer Michael Myshkin (Daniel Mays) and free Leonard Cole (Gerard Kearns) who is being held for Atkins’ kidnapping. Meanwhile, Detective Inspector Maurice Jobson (David Morrissey) is suffering guilt over his participation in the murder cover-ups and the disappearance of Hazel Atkins might be the last straw…the truth cannot remain buried!

Directed by Anand Tucker, Red Riding: The Year of Our Lord 1983 is a mystery thriller. The final entry in the Red Riding Trilogy following Red Riding: The Year of Our Lord 1980 aired on Channel 4 on the BBC and is an adaptation of David Peace’s 2002 novel Red Riding: Nineteen Eighty-Three.

The Red Riding series is heavy and dense, and this film, like other entries, blends some real stories with the fictitious tale. With tons of characters, arching plotlines, and some aspects that require inference from the viewers, they aren’t a simple watch. Red Riding: The Year of Our Lord 1983 is the final wrap-up of the three film series which spans a decade…and it is the most challenging entry to get a handle on.

red riding the year of our lord 1983 detective jobson david morrissey

Someone has a guilty conscience

Unlike the other two movies, this movie feels heavily tied and less of a stand-alone. The story dovetails (logically) back to the first two films throughout the runtime, but even in the connections, the explanations are sometimes a bit vague. It requires a lot of concentration as a viewer and recall of characters and previous events that weren’t always entirely significant. While the basic “wrap-up” is easy (you learn the truth of the crimes), but the deeper truth of what happened has to be unwrapped with more thought.

The cast is good, but this is also my least favorite of the film’s casts. While the supporting cast returns, I don’t feel Mark Addy’s character is developed enough in comparison to the characters of the previous entries. The movie does a decent job expanding David Morrissey’s role, but I wish he had been a bigger factor in the other film entries. The same could be said about Peter Mullan’s Reverend Martin Laws, and since in some ways the movie is BJ’s story, Robert Sheehan could have also had an expanded role in all three films.

red riding the year of our lord 1983 bj shotgun robert sheehan

Don’t call me BJ!!!

Visually the movie is still shows that the BBC goes all out in their productions when they want to. While it was a “TV movie”, the film has a real star quality and feels similar to movies like the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo films.

Red Riding: The Year of Our Lord 1983 is good, but it feels like it could be even better. The script doesn’t necessarily need to be dumbed down for viewers, but a more cohesive telling (and reminder) of ties and characters could help clarify some events. It does however make the movie watchable in that you can rewatch the first two films after this entry and get a better understanding of some of the actions and the cover-up…it is a case of avarice, lust, and ego and people who felt they were too big to fall. “This is the North—We do what we want!” until you hang yourself through your own actions.

Related Links:

Red Riding:  The Year of Our Lord 1974 (2009)

Red Riding:  The Year of Our Lord 1980 (2009)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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