Steve G 💚’s review published on Letterboxd :
I've stated enough times over the course of the last few years that I really don't watch any TV anymore, and I really haven't watched much at all for about the last 10 years or so.
It's due to a combination of factors, really, and there are a lot of them, each of them more boring than the last. One of the reasons became apparent to me watching this first segment of the Red Riding trilogy, which apparently all qualify as films because they got theatrical releases in America or something.
What little bits of British TV I have seen in the last decade, and the kinds of stuff that I had watched or started watching before that, seemed to have had this shift towards what felt like deliberately squalid and depressing material packed with mounds of shagging, torture, swearing and the suchlike.
Now I don't have an issue with any of these, obviously, but they all have their place. Somewhere along the line British TV became over-excited with itself and many of the marquee dramas, usually those on Channel 4 or BBC2, tended to have loads of these things at the expense of stories and characters that could and should have been the actual centrepoint.
Red Riding 1974 is just another example of this, for me. I really don't understand the critical clamour for this. The absolutely stacked British cast is excellent, there are no issues there, and Andrew Garfield even pulls off the Yorkshire accent with nary a hint of a wobble. I just thought this was so sloppy and predictable in its characterisation and plot that I'm quite amazed that it went to the places it did.
Garfield's transformation in the space of just under 2 weeks from naive young journo to walking into Sean Bean's club, gunning three blokes down and beating Sean Harris half to death was such a poor progression of events. His relationship with Rebecca Hall was appallingly paced while her obvious link to Bean is never really a surprise at any point. Then there's the bigger issue that the murders here become a background concern behind a police / newspaper conspiracy plot to protect Bean's business interests.
I guess that could be addressed in the next two installments, which I will still watch, so it being held off on here could be excused. It's just that what replaces it isn't at all interesting and it just degenerates into a torture / murder spree that was over-the-top and never in an enjoyable way. It's not a complete waste of time, it's just far lazier and more obvious than I was hoping. Maybe that was always a forlorn hope though.