starring Jack O'Connell, Paul Anderson, Richard Dormer, Sean Harris
screenplay by Gregory Burke
directed by Yann Demange
by Walter Chaw I'm old and stupid enough to have contextualized the "Troubles," the armed conflict in Northern Ireland between the Catholics and Protestants, the IRA and the Brits, into a few U2 songs and that Paul Greengrass movie named after the same incident as...um, that one U2 song. I believed it was a tense period marked by a few unpleasant incidents. Yann Demange's debut feature '71 has shown me exactly how ignorant I've been of recent history, with a film he himself describes as an excoriation of our propensity, across nations and time, for sending our young men off to fight "dirty" wars. It's absolutely harrowing, and it provides no respite to its tension. The best type of history, it's alive and vital, thought-provoking and utterly, dispiritingly familiar. It reminded me a lot of Gallipoli; and as with Gallipoli, I feel like '71 will be the moment a young actor (Jack O'Connell this time) becomes a star. It's brilliantly shot, smart, and brutal. I went in it not knowing a thing about the film or what it portrayed and left a true believer.