NYFF: '71,Your Opening Weekend Nightmare
Friday,September 26,2014 at 11:11AM
NATHANIEL R in 71,Ireland,Jack O'Connell,NYFF,Reviews,Sam Reid,Yann Demange

TheNew York Film Festivalbegins tonight.Here'sNathanielon the Irish thriller '71 starring this year's breakout actor Jack O'Connell (see also: Starred Up,and Unbroken)


Rookie soldier Gary Hook (Jack O'Connell) is already breathing heavy when'71begins.He and his fellow soldiers are deep in military drills,managing obstacle courses,target practice and running hard miles.Introductions are brief and rote as they meet their commanding officers,only one of whom drops the protocol for a little personality.Lt.Armitage (Sam Reid) attempts to win the new recruits over by admitting that's he's green in his position,too.This isn't comforting to everyone.Just as soon as we've begun the new soldiers get their orders and learn that they're not flying out but staying put in Ireland.

You aren't leaving this country."

For some that sentence will be literal,and a fatalistic omen.But which country are we talking about?Whose country?Belfast in 1971,where the story takes place,was deep into "The Troubles,"a bloody and decades long conflict over the identity of Ireland itself.[more...]

Early in the film the soldiers,particularly Hooks,seem naive about how hellish the conflict really is.Hooks surprises one local boy when he doesn't immediately identify as Catholic or Protestant.When the soldiers look at a map of the city,with clearly delineated bordered between safety and danger and one place they must never venture,they seem less fearful than matter of fact about the information.But the map is no lie.It might as well have been a 19th century engraving of the Gate to Hell.

Naturally the simple military procedure goes awry,erupting into a full blown riot and Hooks is accidentally separated from his unit and abandoned on the violent streets...without riot gear.The bulk of the film is Hooks fight for survival on unfamiliar streets,the map a memory clouded with pain.

Whether or not you can make out the politics,continually punctuated with alarming eruptions of violence and terrorism -- "what I know of 'The Troubles,' I only know from the movies,"Nathaniel said sheepishly.--'71is powerful visceral cinema with top notch cinematography,scoring,and editing.More suprisingly,considering its a debut film is Yann Demange's laser-focused and confident direction,rarely venturing far from Hooks as either object or subject of the film's action,as numerous characters pursue him or become entangled with his fate through geography,sympathy,or bloodlust.In its dropped-into-war-zone structure and escalating dangers,'71is reminiscent of bothBlack Hawk Down(2001) andThe Hurt Locker(2009) but without the movie-movie bravado of the former or the psychological depth of the latter (O'Connell is undoubtedly up to the task -- his fear,pain,and resilience are all unerringly authentic --but Hooks is closer to archetype than character). To its credit,'71's  thrills never feel Hollywood cathartic but play more like haunted ripples from Belfast's own PTSD.

In truth,I could barely stay in my seat.It's the scariest movie of the year...of many years actually.With each effort to escape,the movie only grows more incendiary,as if Hooks is descending through new circles of hell,never to return.[SPOILER FOR THE SQUEAMISH AHEAD] The film's final moments do offer some small degree of comfort,a chance to breathe a little.Hooks lives.But he can surely still feel the heat and taste the ash as he departs the scene.But to where?In Ireland,the Troubles weren't so easy to escape.B+


'71screens this weekend at the festival on Saturday Sept 27th (6 PM) and Sunday Sept 28th (6 PM).The movie opens in the UK next month.Roadside Attractions will distribute the film in the US though no release date has been announced.

Article originally appeared on The Film Experience (//www.cfp-vi.com/).亚博主页
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