Film Scouts Reviews

"Nothing Personal"

by Kathleen Carroll

I had a chance to see "Nothing Personal," Thaddeus O'Sullivan's shattering, chillingly realistic depiction of Belfast in the mid-70's when Protestants and Catholics transformed the bleak Northern Irish city into a killing field.

O'Sullivan, an Irish director whose genteel first feature, "December Bride," had only a limited release in the States, is exceptionally talented. The movie places the viewer smack in the middle of Belfast's cruel streets as a Protestant hitman reveals his true psychotic nature, by shooting a man in the back; hurling a Molotov cocktail at a teenage boy; and shoving bullets into the mouth of a young Catholic father (a torture sequence more harrowing than the one Quentin Tarentino dreamed up in "Reservoir Dogs.).

In the movie's most telling scene the torture victim's young daughter, Kathleen, bravely searches for him in a pub in the Protestant district. Asked to reveal her name she tells the bartender that it's Jane, knowing full well the risks of betraying her Catholic identity in such a place.

O'Sullivan appeared at a Q & A session after the screening where he acknowledged the fact that Gillo Pontecorvo's "The Battle of Algiers" was his main source of inspiration. "I robbed a couple of scenes from that," O'Sullivan cheerfully admitted, citing his opening scene which shows innocent patrons enjoying a drink in a pub before it inevitably blows up. "I think people need to be reminded of the cost of that kind of violence," he informed the audience.

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