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Friday, March 25, 2011



Only the first film from this well reviewed trilogy lives up to the hype. The second & third add detail and help sort out the crisscross paths of civic corruption & serial killings up north in Yorkshire, U.K., but they smell of PBS Masterpiece Mystery, complete with no deductive reasoning or logic-driven investigating, but lots of regional accents as impenetrable as the pointlessly dim interiors. (Has The Beeb run out of light bulbs?) A pity since #2 features a variation on a favorite plot (underappreciated career sod finally gets a big case not because someone thinks he’s good, but because his employer wants an incompetent); and #3 has a lovely perf from Mark Addy as a slob-aholic lawyer who reluctantly figures the whole thing out. No, it’s only the initial film (quite watchable as a stand-alone) that comes fully alive. Without trying too hard to ape the look & production methods of ‘70s cinema, Julian Jarrold helms with a real feel for the period & the dark material. But he couldn’t have pulled it off without Andrew Garfield’s pitch-perfect perf as an investigating cub reporter who lets his growing mania for justice, and an unexpected jolt of love from a victim’s mother (Rebecca Hall), lead him beyond serial killer whodunit and straight into the systemically corrupt heart of darkness that is Yorkshire in The North. Cops, politicians, land developers, even the newspapers seem to be involved. It’s vile & violent territory we know from CHINATOWN/’74 and L. A. CONFIDENTIAL/’97. And RR: 1973 earns a niche not far below them.

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