M FILM – Terror in Belfast

’71 is a gritty and adrenaline-soaked drama about a young British soldier, just out of boot camp in 1971

There have been many fine films made about “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland, from Michael Collins and Cal to Bloody Sunday and In The Name of the Father. Add to that list ’71, a gritty and adrenaline-soaked drama about a young British soldier, just out of boot camp in 1971, who gets shipped off to Belfast to help respond to what his commanding officer euphemistically calls the “deteriorating security situation.”

Gary Hook (Jack O’Connell, who catapulted to fame via the Japanese internment camp drama Unbroken) is the callow recruit who soon finds himself facing a hostile mob as his squad of soldiers drives to a key IRA neighbourhood to search for illegal guns in the home of a known terrorist. As a small riot erupts, Hook becomes separated from his unit and is quickly being chased by two young gunmen trying to kill him. Suddenly lost in a hostile and confusing landscape, the terrified Hook has to survive a night where it’s impossible to tell friend from foe.

Made on a small budget by veteran TV director Yann Demange, ’71 is permeated with a realism that acts as a sharp rebuke to the many sleekly filmed but morally vacant action flicks that are a staple at the multiplex. The poverty and despair of a violence-wracked city under martial law is handily evoked, while a scene of Catholic boys pitching plastic bags of piss at the loathed British soldiers adds a grubby, blackly comic pungency to the conflict. But minutes later, when a young private gets fatally shot in the face, it’s obvious just how high the stakes really are.

A work of fiction that is nonetheless true to the violent history of Northern Ireland, ’71 sketches in a few pertinent details – such as how the IRA was splintering into two factions as younger and more violent fighters began butting heads with the disciplined old guard – before taking off on an immersive, raw, and suspense-filled scramble through the madness of war-torn Belfast.

Hand held camera work, frantic chase scenes, and harsh moments of conflict and betrayal add a powerful sense of dislocation and anxiety. And the script never takes sides. By digging for the human truth of ordinary people caught up in this murderous conflict, the well acted ’71 pulls off the neat trick of being both a credible anti-war film and a brilliantly choreographed man-on-the-run thriller. This is a notable piece of work.

‘71 ***1/2

 

Stars Jack O’Connell, Sean Harris, David Wilmot

Directed by Yann Demange

COMING SOON:

Get Hard

Will Ferrell co-stars with fellow funnyman Kevin Hart as a fraudster millionaire who is headed for prison and hires a man he thinks is a street-smart criminal to prepare him for the harshness of life behind bars.

While We’re Young

Indie director Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) helms a comedy about a longtime married couple (Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts) whose stagnant routine gets a shakeup when two 20somethings (Adam Driver, Amanda Seyfried) crash into their lives.

Child 44

Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace (Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) are the leads in a Soviet-era detective thriller about a Russian agent on the trail of a serial child murderer.  With Gary Oldman.

Woman in Gold

Helen Mirren stars in a true-life story of an 80-year-old Jewish refugee who takes the Austrian government to court to recover a masterpiece by Gustav Klimt that was stolen from her family by the Nazis decades earlier. Costarring Ryan Reynolds.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tomo Vranjes, a Greater Victoria musician and longtime fan of late rock guitar icon Eddie Van Halen, joins artist Paul Archer behind the latter’s Fort Street gallery. Archer, whose airbrushed paintings of rock greats have made him many connections in recent years, painted a likeness of Van Halen following the guitarist’s death last month from cancer. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Victoria artist’s king-sized tribute to Eddie Van Halen draws on personal connection

Paul Archer had an up close and personal day with the legendary guitarist in 1980

A sample of some of Lou-ann Neel’s jewelry.
Lou-ann Neel wins the Fulmer Award in First Nations Art

Originally from Alert Bay, Neel’s family is steeped in renowned Kwakwaka’wakw artists

I-Hos Gallery manager Ramona Johnson shows some of the paddles available at the retail outlet. Photo by Terry Farrell
I-Hos Gallery celebrates 25 years of promoting First Nation artwork

K’ómoks First Nation-based outlet has art from all over the country

Bard to Broadway Theatre Society may stage shows outdoors next summer. (PQB News photo file)
Qualicum Beach’s Bard to Broadway group may stage shows outdoors

Theatre society plans smaller productions due to ongoing pandemic

A new short film festival called MORVENFEST is encouraging B.C. secondary students to step into the world of film during their Christmas break. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
New film festival gives Victoria students exciting opportunity

MORVENFEST is open to all B.C. secondary students over Christmas break

Port Alberni author Diane Dobson has put together a collection of childhood memories, with proceeds going towards the Ty Watson House. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Port Alberni writer looks through the eyes of a child

Book raises funds for the Alberni Valley Hospice Society

The Old School House Arts Centre in Qualicum Beach has temporarily closed its doors to the public as of Nov.18. (Mandy Moraes photo)
COVID-19: The Old Schoolhouse Arts Centre in Qualicum Beach closes until 2021

TOSH takes proactive approach to ‘protect the well-being of the community’

Edie Daponte and Joey Smith share the stage Saturday at the Sid Williams Theatre. The show is also being livestreamed. Photo supplied
Edie Daponte brings show up-Island

Second World War tribute live and livestreamed in Courtenay and Campbell River

Most Read