by Rose Finlay
Janin Demange, United Kingdom 2014
During a riot, a young English soldier is lost in the back streets of Belfast in the middle of the Troubles. He finds himself constantly thrown between the loyalists and the rebels and as the film progresses it becomes increasingly difficult to tell the two groups apart. In a highly atmospheric and often times confusing film, we watch as the soldier struggles to find his way to safety.
A film about the Troubles that was written by a Scotsman, directed by an Englishman and which shows the British side feels like it could be highly problematic. However, ’71 manages to make a powerful film that skirts along the political edges of taking sides. It is more about how war is hell and how absolutely devastating and unclear the Troubles were for everyone involved. Despite some powerful moments, it may be highly confusing to those who are uninformed about the politics of Northern Ireland of the time. It is certainly an unflinching story, but one that can leave a bit of a bad taste in the mouth of anyone who realizes that it shows British soldiers in a largely sympathetic view and doesn’t do much to redeem the Irish.