Gritty drama about troubled Belfast life in the early 1970's Discuss this article

Belfast, 1971, and Gary (Jack O’Connell), a young private in the British army, is thrown in at the deep end of the Troubles; more than that, his hands are tied and there are bricks in his pocket. This quiet lad from Derbyshire has barely been in Belfast a day when he finds himself in the middle of a violent street riot sparked by a heavy-handed house search by police in a Catholic area. Matters turn worse when he becomes separated from his colleagues and has to flee down menacing alleys and up war-torn streets to escape with his life.
As night falls, the stark reality of the situation begins to look more and more like something from a foggy, street-lamp-lit nightmare.

This is the first feature from French-born, British-based TV director Yann Demange, and it recalls Paul Greengrass’ Bloody Sunday: same country, same period, same in-the-moment shaky camerawork and sense of escalating terror. But as darkness comes, ’71 offers something more atmospheric and ambitious than mere documentary-style realism. Gary has the weight of the Troubles on his shoulders, and Gregory Burke’s script sets out to capture all the rifts and loyalties of 1971 Belfast: a thankless task, perhaps.

By Dave Calhoun
Time Out Doha,


  • Duration: 102
  • Released: Thu, 20 Nov
  • Classification: 15+
  • Language: English
  • Director: Yann Demange
  • Stars: Jack O'Connell, Sam Reid, Sean Harris

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