Film Review: ’71


Director Yann Demange’s feature debut ’71 is a tense and compelling thriller that is finely executed.

Gary Hook is a young British soldier sent for his first mission to Belfast. When he is accidentally abandoned by his unit, Gary must fend for himself on the deadly streets of 1971 Belfast…

’71 is a unmistakably visceral film that demands the audience’s attention throughout. The narrative is well-paced, with heightened tension occurring at frequent intervals. It is the sense of anxiety which is really effective in keeping viewers fully engaged with the film.

’71 tells the audience enough about the protagonist to give him depth. Wisely, the film concentrates on action rather than the character of individual players. At its heart, ’71 is about the actions that take of the course of one day. Although Gary is drawn as a sympathetic protagonist, his inexperience and vulnerability are what drive the film’s plot.

The style of filing forces the audience to become part of the action in ’71. The use of handheld camera is effective at situation viewers at the forefront of the action. The grainy quality to the picture gives the film a 1970s feel. Cinematography in the film is great. Likewise, the art direction gives an authentic, period feel. Sound design is highly effective, particularly in pivotal scenes. Jack O’Connell delivers a sincere and convincing performance as Gary. It is not difficult to empathise with his predicament.

With moments of palpable tension, ’71 is satisfying thriller. Exhibiting shades of grey in the behaviour of characters and the situation, Demange offers a most competent thriller.

’71 is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2014, and is released in cinemas on 10th October 2014.