I caught all three parts of the Red Riding Trilogy over an 8 hour period one Sunday in March. I watched them in chronological order.
Red Riding 1974 directed by Julian Jarrold; (2009) - Official Website
Red Riding 1980 directed by James Marsh; (2009) - Official Website
Red Riding 1983 directed by Anand Tucker; (2009) - Official Website
I think the full titles were Red Riding: In the Year of Our Lord 1983, etc.
Anyway, the films tell the story of the Yorkshire Ripper. The films are historical fiction as they combine the Ripper murders (adult women) with a series child abduction/murders. The murders serve as a backdrop for the police and newspaper investigations which turn up deep-rooted police corruption.
The first film follows a young reporter who gets too close to exposing a wealthy real-estate develop (Sean Bean). The next film deals with a special investigative unit which gets too close to the police corruption. The final film deals with a police officer involved in the corruption as he seeks redemption and a lawyer who closes in on the real killer while appealing his client's conviction for the murders.
All the films are relentlessly bleak. The police are as much the villain in the films as the murderers. Anyone who opposes the police is eventually killed. Even the so-called good guys are womanizers, cheating husbands, failures in life, gay hustlers and murderers.
The three films were a bit of a slog. The English accents made it difficult for me to understand all the dialog. The films were heavy on period authenticity and Yorkshire/Leeds sure looks like a grey and gloomy place. Like the murders, the films felt like an ordeal to be endured. That's not to say they were without merit but you feel like you need to take a shower after watching all three. The films are not epic either; they are quite personal so you feel up close & personal with many of the characters. It feels as if the slime oozees off them and onto you. You also have reservations about humanity if only half of what was shown was historically accurate. The film makes you wallow in the same fetid pool of degradation and depravity that the murderers and police thrive in. To that extent, the films were successful.
I'm not sure I can recommend the films but I will say they affected me in a visceral manner and the subject matter as much as the runtime left me exhausted.
4 days ago