“’71” at The 52nd New York Film Festival, September 26-October 12, 2014
The New York Film Festival will take place at the Film Society of Lincoln Center from September 26 – October 12, 2014. Although the press screenings have just started, this year’s line up looks to be a formidable one with over 30 feature films from around the world, in addition to 21 revivals and 15 documentaries.
From Ireland, director Yann Demange’s “’71” is a suspenseful, pulse pounding, riveting account of a British soldier, cut off from his unit, lost and trying to stay alive in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1971 at the height of what was called “the Troubles.” “’71” is a skillfully directed thriller with plenty of action, solid characters and a real sense of the historical and political situation of the time.
I will admit that part of the story of “’71,” while compelling, is also a bit confusing. I do not mean that as negative criticism. The confusion comes out of the fact that the situation that the film depicts is itself a disorienting one. The story involves Protestants, Catholics and the British all involved in a conflict that has complex political, historical and ethnic dimensions. Director Demange does not attempt to give a history lesson. His story is a movie and he expertly keeps the story, well, moving.
At points, in “’71,” it was hard to tell which characters were on which sides and what their political motives might be. As indicated earlier, I think that this is an authentic part of the world being depicted.
In some scenes I did find the British and Irish accents a bit tough to understand. While on the one hand I found myself wishing for subtitles, on the other hand the performances were so strong that, even though I may not have been able to understand every word, I understood the meaning of what the characters were saying. This, on some level, is even more important.
Demange skillfully juggles and delineates many interesting characters along the way, not the least of which is Gary Hook (Jack O’Connell) the main character. Hook is our entry into the world of this story. We are really put into his point of view. By film’s end I genuinely felt as if I had gone through all that he did. It took me a while to leave my seat after the film had finished.
“’71” is a taut thriller, well directed and acted. It will be shown on September 27 at 6:00 pm at Alice Tully Hall and on September 28 at 6:00 pm at the Film Society’s Walter Reade Theatre.
Posted on September 16, 2014, in 52nd New York Film Festival and tagged "'71", Belfast. the Troubles, Jack O'Connell, Northern Ireland, Tann Demanges, The 52nd New York Film Festival. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.