Thursday, 16 October 2014

'71 - review

'71 refers to the year when the film is set which follows a young soldier on duty in Belfast during the Troubles but it could also refer to the nerve-shredding 71 minutes that follow once Jack O'Connell's Pvt Hook finds himself abandoned, lost, alone and hunted as he tries to make it back to the barracks after a bungled raid.

O'Connell is excellent in a role that is surprisingly silent, as even a simple yes or no could give away his identity as many different parties search for "the Brit", but he is still able to generate that all-important empathy with the audience as they can feel his pain, anger and fear throughout the night.

And in the words of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, "Oh what a night". Once Hook is separated from his unit, Yann Demange inserts the screw and continues to turn and turn it to unbearably high levels of tension that caused several audiences members in my screening to let out audible gasps for a release, particularly at one specific incredible shot that I have no idea how they filmed it and the climax in a tower block (that in one of the film'sonly flaws is signposted from the beginning. Oh those flats are an IRA stronghold, wonder where he'll end up).

The plot and action move as fast as Hook does through the hostile territory but still provides room to explore the mood, emotions and politics of the time.

You'll have no trouble appreciating this Escape From Belfast and fall for it Hook, line and sinker.

4 stars

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