Allan Gildea

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Bloody Sunday Review


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A nonviolent protest march in Derry, Northern Ireland escalates into a bloodbath on January 30, 1972. Alas, this event is best known within the American pop culture lexicon as U2's sanctimonious rock ballad, "Sunday Bloody Sunday" (which makes a grating appearance during the closing credits, after a movie that has nearly no music in it whatsoever). If nothing else, the new film Bloody Sunday directed by Paul Greengrass (The Theory of Flight) should be able to get a sense of the tensions that arose that fateful day between Irish protesters and British paratroopers. Told in a minute-by-minute documentary style, the story recreates the events of that morning switching back and forth between the British and Irish perspective.

It's a compelling idea, with handheld digital cameras swooping around the actors as the Derry citizens prepare for the march. It has the lived-in quality of any rally you've ever been to, with stressed-out volunteers trying to coordinate the herd. The performances are naturalistic and unshowy, with a committed performance by James Nesbitt as Protestant activist Ivan Cooper (whose everyman mug and receding hairline make him a believably workaday hero). There's a surprising lack of self-righteousness in the proceedings, for the most part fairly handling the British officers and soldiers caught up in gung-ho tension and resentment for being there in the first place. And the Irish aren't given a halo, with IRA thugs working their way through the crowd and stupid kid hooligans throwing stones during the "peaceful" march.

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Allan Gildea Movies

Bloody Sunday Movie Review

Bloody Sunday Movie Review

A nonviolent protest march in Derry, Northern Ireland escalates into a bloodbath on January 30,...

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