A Belfast Story
A Belfast Story is a film from first-time director Nathan Todd, attempting to address the issue of tension in contemporary post-war Northern Ireland – a war left unresolved and without blame though with many innocent victims.
The issue itself is one that has been previously raised and will no doubt be the subject of further big screen attention. The story follows an unnamed detective (Colm Meaney) who is sent out to investigate a series of murders of ex-IRA members. Connected to the case are the First Minister (Tommy O’Neil) and corrupt Chief Constable (Malcolm Sinclair) who attempt to cover up their associations with the IRA in order to maintain a peaceful Belfast.
From the offset there is an almost hollow pantomime feel to the script. Too much explanation is given right from the start, giving a sense of a script overly justifying itself. If the storyline is set to be political, the writers could have left more room for a build up of tension here. At times the film is almost predictable, with lines such as “they’re coming to get you” spoken by an ex-IRA member’s wife; of course the killers do exactly that approximately 50 seconds later.
The lack of visual narrative and over-compromise in the script leads to characters very peculiarly in the act of talking to themselves and to corpses. Instead of the detective talking to the corpse of an ex-IRA member, explaining why it is that the killers had gone for him, the script writer could have quite easily unfolded the story of the (now dead) ex-IRA prior to his murder.
The acts of killing are symbolic, dark and calculated. Each murder tells its own story, a very interesting twist to what could have easily been another stereotypical murder mystery. However, there is plenty of room for each individual case to have been developed further as the murders deserve more focus, as do the murderers whose true stories are only revealed at the very end.
Stuck somewhere between a murder mystery and a political rant A Belfast Story is a decent first attempt by Todd, adding yet further scope and interpretation to the history of Northern Ireland.
A Belfast Story was released nationwide on 25th October 2013. It will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on 20th January 2014.
Watch the official trailer for A Belfast Story here: