A BELFAST STORY

6.5 out of 10

Release Date: 23rd October 2013 (DVD Premiere)

Director: Nathan Todd

Cast: Colm Meaney, Malcolm Sinclair, Tommy O’Neill, Patrick Rocks, Damien Hasson, Susan Davey, Gordon Mahon, Patrick Buchanan, James Kearney with Stuart Graham and Maggie Cronin

Writer: Nathan Todd

Trailer: A BELFAST STORY

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COLM MEANEY (CON AIR) is a versatile character actor that I’ve respected for some time. A Belfast Story has presented him with a rare leading role.  What begins as a fairly regular police procedural opens wider into a thought piece about how the people of Belfast have come to recover and move on (or not) from the ‘troubles’.  Plot wise, a serial killer is working his way down a long list of former IRA terrorists and he’s working his way up to a high ranking ‘now-legit’ politician (TOMMY O’NEILL – TITANIC (TV)).  Stereotypically, Colm Meaney‘s former-Loyalist detective is on the verge retirement when he catches the case. He’s encouraged to solve the case swiftly but brush over any IRA connections as the ‘powers that be’ are desperate for Belfast to remain a peaceful place. He keeps on getting told that,”those days are gone.”  The bodies are stacking up and the circumstances of the victims’ deaths mirror the way in which they dispensed IRA punishment back in the 1970s and 80s.  

A Belfast Story would have benefitted from being a TV mini-series because there is a lot of interesting material on offer here.  Colm Meaney‘s a nicely conflicted character because it seems that those remaining IRA men that he’s been charged to protect are men that he had clashed with and failed to put in jail decades before. His dedication to the case is questioned from all sides when it becomes clear that the case is too big to brush under the carpet. There’s  much to cover as certain characters could do with fleshing out. Characters like Tommy O’Neill‘s politician, or the Chief of Police (MALCOLM SINCLAIR – PIE IN THE SKY) get particular short shrift. Partnering Colm Meaney up with a young detective (PATRICK ROCKS), who has grown up in peace time, seems like an excuse for a bit of history lesson. But the writers don’t make heavy work of it.  The conspiracy at work at the political end of the chain is over convoluted but at least it doesn’t spell everything out right away.

The resolution of the film may be a little pat and depending on your personal politics, it could sit awkwardly. With this in mind, A Belfast Story does well to dig up some food for thought, whilst not quite getting to grips with the mechanics of justice or revenge. It’s an odd film served well by a great performance from all the cast (largely unknown to me), especially Colm Meaney, but it would have benefitted from a bit more depth as one gets the impression that we’ve barely struck the tip the iceberg. At least, it’s a start.

6.5 out of 10 – A TV mini-series with a similar plot would have been even better, giving some of the characters more air to breathe. But there’s enough to appreciate here. Way above average.

WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?

  • Colm Meaney: One ChanceAlan Partridge – Alpha PapaThe Hot Potato, The Cold Light Of Day, Bel Ami, Law Abiding Citizen, Parked, Three and Out, Get Him To The Greek,  The Damned Utd, Intermission, This Is My Father, Claire Dolan, Con Air, The Road To Wellville, War Of The Buttons, The Committments, The Snapper, The Van, Star Trek – Deep Space 9 (TV), Under Siege, Into the West, The Last Of The Mohicans (1992), Far and Away, Die Hard 2
  • Malcolm Sinclair: Pie In The Sky (TV)
  • Tommy O’Neill: Titanic (TV)
  • Maggie Cronin: Doctors (TV)
  • Patrick Buchanan: Dark By Noon, Shooting For Socrates
  • Stuart Graham: In The Blood, Grabbers, Shadow Dancer, Parked, Hunger
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