This crime triptych originated in four novels by David Peace, who looked back without nostalgia to the Yorkshire of his youth. Peace's Red Riding books, set between 1974 and 1983, tell four compact, overlapping narratives of crime and punishment—rarely of the guilty. Adapted by screenwriter Tony Grisoni, the three episodes are each handled by a different noteworthy UK director. Julian Jarrold's 1974 concerns Eddie Dunford (Andrew Garfield), who has moved home from the south for Dad's funeral and a job as a junior crime reporter. He starts to cover the disappearances of local girls and decries something rotten in Yorkshire, as his investigations don't jive with the conviction of a local halfwit. 1980, the best freestanding film by a wide margin, takes place during the last at-large days of the Yorkshire Ripper, who held northern England in suspense for five years and 13 murders. Peter Hunter (Paddy Considine) is a Manchester internal-affairs man sent across the moors to review the thus-far failed search for the Ripper, and Hunter's outsider status allows director James Marsh several face-offs between conceited, contained Considine and the resentful Yorkies. But any spell cast is diffused by weak clean-up man Anand Tucker's whiffed 1983, returning to 1974's crime(s) in smeary digital video. Another missing child triggers flashbacks, and David Morrissey's career copper remembers his conscience while picking up Dunford and Hunter's loose threads. A bathetic conclusion previews what we can anticipate from Ridley Scott's announced American remake. NICK PINKERTON
Considine (left) tries to sort things out in 1984.
Runs at Northwest Film Forum, Fri. Feb. 26-Thurs., March 4. Not rated. 305 minutes.