Monday, September 13, 2010

A Quiet Day In Belfast

(Milad Bessada, 1974)
Pretty easy to tell this is based on a stage play, although not from the staging - cinematically, this is a genuinely successful opening up. But as a director of actors, Bessada is no control freak. The performances range from stoic to buffoonishly loud, and while Barry Foster tries to do realism these other guys are walking around with absurd spirit gum mustaches and blackened teeth. The buildup to the bombings in the final sequence does generate some tension, although the ultimate closeups of mutilated bodies are of a piece with the rest of this hamfisted allegory. The script's one-world analysis of the troubles seems both secondhand and simplistic, and only occasionally does the large ensemble bring things to life. Tellingly, Sean McCann's cold bastard is the best performance in the movie, while Margot Kidder's sporadic turn as the symbolic pretty twin sisters (sound familiar?) feels alienated and extraneous, not least because she botches the accent. Other annoyances: the alternately vague and hyperemphatic scoring, and the over-enunciated, Canadian Cooperation Agreement-style nods to nation of origin.

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