I tend to have problems with lead protagonists who aren’t very smart or clever or self-protecting, especially if they’re journalists. Blokes who just blunder in, regardless of the climate or threat levels in the room, and state their business or line of inquiry without ever seeming to realize that without showing a little finesse and caution and without some idea of what might happen among territorial types when a blundering snoop starts poking around that he might very well get hit, kicked, gouged, cut and bruised very badly.

In Julian Jarrold‘s 1974, the first installment in the Red Riding trilogy, Andrew Garfield (Lions for Lambs, Boy A) plays such a blunderer. And I simply lost patience with him, as I would lose patience with anyone under any circumstance who can’t size up the room, reign in his cruder impulses and make an attempt to find out what he needs to know the way a shrewd card player counts what he’s seen and decides how to play his hand.

On top of which I really can’t stand actors who constantly smoke. All I really knew about Garfield’s journalist (named Eddie Dunford) is that he has one King Kong of a nicotine habit. I began to mutter to myself that Garfield needs to man up and get through just one scene without lighting up. He may done this once, but it wasn’t enough. I began to actively dislike and then despise Garfield. Then I started wishing he’d be killed. I wanted him dead, I wanted him dead…sooner rather than later. Sadly, irritatingly, Jarrold made me wait for it, and when the moment came…I’m actually not sure what happened, but I think it was a good thing.

So much for installment #1 of the Red Riding trilogy. I’ll catch the other two on DVD some day…maybe. (Posted on iPhone from a Starbucks on 49th and Eighth.)