1980, Year That God Made Me
Fuck me, 1980 might be the most harrowing film I have ever seen. It has the same awful impact of Irreversible but there is nothing gratuitous or voyeuristic here. As befits its subject matter – and the fact that real women died – it is remorselessly sombre and bleak. With the exception of one vivid, nightmarish scene it is entirely stripped of the surreal air of 1974, nor is there any of the period swagger of the previous film.
At the heart of it Paddy Considine gives an extremely measured performance in an almost archetypal role as a crusading White Knight policeman. He has come over the Pennines to investigate the West Yorkshire Police and their own investigation into the Ripper, he is despised by his colleagues who nickname him St. Cunt, his marriage is strained and he has had a brief affair with one of his detectives. Constantine conveys this with a closed and subtle performance, peppered with brilliant little touches. If 1980 seems more conventional than its predecessor though, it is a world away from most cop dramas. Not only is it technically superior to almost everything else that appears on British television (the score and the photography are superb) but it utterly lacks any consolation for the viewer. Peter Sutcliffe himself is caught by accident towards the end of the film but by this point he has become almost a distraction to the characters. His arrest in no way means the police have “won”, if anything it only further exposes the black cancer that is spread throughout the force. The film ends after repeating a sickening litany of the crimes of both the Ripper and the police with the promise of more to come.