Cinema Review: Black 47

Posted 9 months ago in Cinema Reviews

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Director: Lance Daly

Talent: Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent, Stephen Rea, James Frecheville, Barry Keoghan, Moe Dunford, Sarah Greene.

Released: 7 September

Black 47 is a thriller centred around The Great Famine. We follow the course of Feeney (James Frecheville), an Irish deserter of the British army, who comes home to find his country ravaged by a famine. In retaliation, he wreaks revenge on those responsible for his family’s demise. Hot on his tail are the unlikely duo of rebellious ex-soldier Hannah (Hugo Weaving), and Pope (Freddie Fox), a devout defender of British rule.

Gritty and hard-hitting, Black 47 forces the viewer to acknowledge the atrocities suffered by the Irish under British rule, by depicting the forced exportation of Irish grain amid a famine, and the forced renunciation of the Catholic church for soup rations. With some superb acting from its lead actors, Black 47 has some commendable aspects. Australian actor Frecheville appears to have mastered the Irish accent (unlike so many), and the Irish language to boot. Throughout the film, Gaeilge is artfully integrated. Greetings and the odd exchange occur often without subtitles. During large chunks of conversations ‘as Gaeilge’ subtitles were positioned near the action to avoid forcing the viewer to divert their attention from the characters and goings-on.

Black 47, however, is let down by a predictable and shallow plot, and little in the way of character development. A stereotypical action movie, it consists mostly of a path of vengeance and a chase. While some heart-wrenching scenes are scattered throughout, the lack of a story means the film drags on. With some superb elements, the plot of Black 47 is its ultimate failing; however, the Great Famine proves to be fascinating, unexplored subject matter which deserves revisiting.

Words: Courtney Byrne

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