Black ’47
dir Lance Daly
scr PJ Dillon, Pierce Ryan, Eugene O'Brien, Lance Daly
prd Macdara Kelleher, Tim O'Hair, Arcadiy Golubovich, Jonathan Loughran
with Hugo Weaving, James Frecheville, Stephen Rea, Freddie Fox, Barry Keoghan, Moe Dunford, Jim Broadbent, Sarah Greene, Ciaran Grace, Aidan McArdle, Dermot Crowley, Kieran Boland
release Ire 5.Sep.18,
UK/US 28.Sep.18
18/Ireland 1h36
Black '47
The barrel of a gun: Frecheville and Weaving

rea keoghan broadbent
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Black '47 This revenge thriller is given powerful resonance by its setting during Ireland's horrific mid-19th century potato famine. So not only does the narrative grip us with its steely sense of righteous violence, but the events also have some surprising things to say about today's world. It's a complex, moving, strikingly well-made film with a driving plot and riveting characters.

After fighting with the British army in far-flung places, Feeney (Frecheville) abandons his post and returns home to Connemara worried about his family after two years of famine. And his homeland is even more devastated than the wartorn nations he has been fighting in. So he sets out to avenge the unjust deaths of his mother and brother at the hand of callous occupying English forces and selfish landowners. Meanwhile, the English assign jaded soldier Hannah (Weaving) to stop him, accompanied by an officer (Fox), an assistant (Keoghan) and a local (Rea).

Feeney quietly marches through everyone in his way, leading to a showdown with Hannah's team. Along the way, the escalating situation erodes loyalties, which means that these Englishmen continually take stands that violate their orders. But extreme poverty and heartless cruelty are hard to ignore when they're seen firsthand, at least for those who still have a conscience. The sense of helplessness among a crushed people is seriously wrenching.

Frecheville gives a remarkably impassive performance, understating each encounter with simmering intensity. He's like the Angel of Death stalking his prey, but there are ripples of earnest emotion under the surface. Weaving is also excellent as a man given one more chance after he snapped, and now he knows the right thing to do. Fox shines as the prissy, by-the-book young officer, and Keoghan and Rea have surprising moments of their own. While Broadbent never flinches from his role as a ruthlessly cold-hearted aristocrat.

Daly directs the film in a bracingly engaging style, keeping the gritty period details realistic while adding present-day touches relating to everything from the specific situation in Ireland to the broader issue of global terrorism. And the movie also works as a suspense thriller with unusually nuanced characters who are not only easy to identify with but also offer insight into both the politics of the day and the situation we're in today. In other words, this is a rare period film that works on a variety of levels to entertain, scare and provoke important conversations.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 14.Aug.18

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© 2018 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall