A review of “Bloody Sunday” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: *** 1/2

Rating: R for intense violence

Run Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

 

 

On January 30th, 1972, an anti-interment civil rights march in Derry, Northern Ireland vaulted into the history books when British soldiers killed 13 unarmed civilians in cold blood.  Writer / director Paul Greengrass tells the story of this remarkable day, moving from dawn until dusk in the wake of contemporary Irish troubles that escalated into a 25-year cycle of violence.

Dizzying, hand-held camera work serves to heighten the tension and confusion of this emotional roller coaster.  The unstoppable force of the 700-year old conflict between Britain and Ireland is the yin to the yang of  fiercely intimate portrayals of the people and the faces that made up this peaceful border community. 

The camera follows middle-class Protestant and idealistic MP Ivan Cooper (James Nesbitt) as he moves among his constituents with a smile and an anecdote for all.  Orbiting Cooper’s universe are Gerry Donaghy (Declan Duddy), a 17-year old Catholic rebel who wants to settle down with his Protestant lady-love, and Brigadier Patrick MacLellan (Nicholas Farrell), the commander of the British army in borough Londonderry who comes under extreme pressure to put a  stop to the march.

There’s a sense of helplessness in the historical knowledge of this gruesome day. A violent collision that’s unfortunately relevant to today’s relentless stream of aggressive acts, “Bloody Sunday” is a must-see film experience.