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Three Views: ’71

March 13, 2015

'71 Poster’71 – An Elevation Pictures Release

https://www.facebook.com/71filmuk

Release Date: March 13th, 2015 (Limited)
Rated 14A for coarse language and graphic violence
Running Time: 99 minutes

Yann Demange (director)

Gregory Burke (screenplay)

David Holmes (music)

Jack O’Connell as Gary Hook
Sam Reid as Lieutenant Armitage
Sean Harris as Captain Sandy Browning
Barry Keoghan as Sean Bannon
Martin McCann as Paul Haggerty
David Wilmot as Boyle
Killian Scott as Quinn
Corey McKinley as Billy
Richard Dormer as Eamon
Charlie Murphy as Brigid

'71

Gary Hook (Jack O’Connell) in ’71.

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’71 Review By John Corrado

★★★½ (out of 4)

The set up for director Yann Demange’s ’71 is deceptively simple, but the overnight conceit of this gritty and intense thriller gives way to a politically charged story that is wrought with tested morals.  The year is 1971, and after his troop is deployed to a small town in Belfast right on the border of the Protestant and Catholic conflicts, young soldier Gary Hook (Jack O’Connell) gets lost in the increasingly violent riots and has to find a way to survive the night, always at threat of being captured or killed.

As a stripped down thriller, ’71 works quite well, even upon second viewing.  Although the shaky camerawork can be nauseating at times, it’s a viscerally affective stylistic choice that helps throw us right into the disorienting violence and conflict, authentically capturing the harsh realities of the time.  There are several sequences here that are pulled off incredibly well in terms of editing and cinematography, bursting with a perfectly executed sense of almost relentless tension and suspense.

Death can come at literally any moment, and every burst of violence stings, but the quieter moments are equally gripping, when we glimpse amidst the conflict just how scared both sides really are.  With rock solid leading work from breakout star Jack O’Connell, ’71 is a very well crafted thriller that mixes quiet character drama and intensely gritty action, to riveting and constantly suspenseful effect.

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’71 Review By Erin Corrado

★★★★ (out of 4)

’71 is a gripping thriller taking place on the streets of Belfast over one long night in 1971.  After a group of newly-deployed British soldiers are doing house-to-house weapons checks in an Irish-Catholic neighbourhood, young soldier Gary Hook (Jack O’Connell) is accidentally left-behind after being attacked and chased by rioters.  What follows is a gripping and intense struggle for survival as Hook is both helped and hunted through the night.

What is fascinating about the film is that we see back-stabbing and double crossing from both sides, with questionable decisions and people’s morals being called into play at every turn. The cinematography is intentionally disorienting, as we see the streets of Belfast through Hook’s confusion.  Running through this maze, the sense of danger is palpable.  With many scenes having minimal dialogue, the performance is really carried by the expressive actors here.  O’Connell’s performance in particular gives us a face to follow and relate to over the tense 100 minutes we share with him.  A very well made film, ’71 captures the confusion and frightening elements of a riot zone, all the while showing us the people on the streets caught right in the middle.

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’71 Review By Tony Corrado

★★★★ (out of 4)

’71 is set at the peak of the Troubles in Belfast. Despite negotiations between moderates that would eventually lead to peace, there were still militants on both sides: the provisional IRA and the brutally repressive loyalist RUC troops. Regular British soldiers were deployed in an attempt to keep peace, with limited success.

The film opens in a boot camp, from which Gary Hook (Jack O’Connell) is shipped out to the front. Finding himself holding back a crowd of angry Catholic protestors while RUC shock troops are going door to door to beat up suspected militants, Hook is suddenly separated from his men and on the run. Amid angry mobs and spies on both sides, but also decent people who can help him, Hook has to survive the night before he can be rescued.

’71 is an intense film from beginning to end. We feel the disorientation of Hook as he runs through the maze of streets where anyone could kill him at any moment. Confusion about who is on what side and even the dialects add to this. The gritty surroundings and brutality are painfully real. ’71 will no doubt be among the best films about the period.

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Consensus: Built around a solid performance from Jack O’Connell, ’71 is a gripping and intense thriller, that offers constant suspense through gritty camerawork and impressive editing, as well as fascinating character moments. ★★★¾ (out of 4)

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