Autumn 2015 Features series
Sunday, November 1, 2015 at 4:00pm
Sunday, November 1, 2015 at 7:00pm
Directed by Yann Demange
Screenplay by Gregory Burke
Starring Jack O'Connell, Sam Reid, and Sean Harris
Rated NR ·
A gripping and intense thriller set on the mean streets of Belfast in the early years of the Troubles, ’71 is a remarkably assured feature debut for director Yann Demange. Written by Scottish playwright Gregory
Burke (who effectively explored soldier psychology in his award-winning stage play Black Watch), ’71 skillfully navigates the bloody politics of the era to focus on the horrors suffered by ordinary soldiers and civilians at the heart of this brutal conflict.
Rising star Jack O’Connell (Unbroken, Starred Up) gives a galvanizing performance as Gary Hook, a fresh British recruit whose unit is dispatched to help with peacekeeping in the Northern Irish capital during the fatefully violent year of 1971. After a routine house raid in the Catholic part of town goes awry, Gary finds himself separated from his unit and pursued by an armed gang of Provisional IRA fighters. With night closing in and no idea how to get back to his barracks, he must throw himself on the mercy of loyalist allies, whose nominal sympathies by no means translate into guarantees of sanctuary.
Visceral and palpably tense, ’71 offers a grunt’s-eye view of a brutal and complex conflict, with O’Connell undeniably impressive and wholly convincing in his naïve and disbelieving reactions to the horrors around him. Beautifully shot, sporting an atmospheric production design that fully immerses you in the fraught and claustrophobic setting, and directed with a great sense of pace and excitement, ’71 is a haunting story of survival that elevates a specific situation to universal relevance.
“Swift and exciting, with no taste for the usual war movie heroics, first-time feature film director Yann Demange’s film belongs on a short list of immersive, rattling, authentic fictions right next door to the fact of survival inside a war zone.” (Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune)
“As much an urban thriller as a war movie … this outstanding, muscular feature debut for French-born, British-based director Yann Demange almost never puts a foot wrong, from the softly underplayed performances to the splendidly speckled cinematography and fine-grained period detailing.” (Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter)