The Movie Waffler New Release Review - A Belfast Story | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - A Belfast Story

A Belfast detective investigates a serial killer targeting former IRA leaders.

Directed by: Nathan Todd
Starring: Colm Meaney, Malcolm Sinclair, Tommy O'Neill, Damien Hasson, Susan Davy

Belfast detective Meaney is called to the scene of a grisly nail-bomb murder, the victim a former IRA leader. This is merely the first of a string of killings of one-time paramilitaries. Meaney is partnered with rookie cop Damien (Hasson), who is actually keeping tabs on him for a Chief Constable (Sinclair) who has his own reasons for hindering the investigation.
At press screenings, it's common to see the same old faces. At the Dublin screening of 'A Belfast Story', however, many critics were conspicuous by their absence. The writer-director, Nathan Todd, has come under fire in Ireland and the UK for an exceptionally tasteless press pack sent out to various media outlets across the British Isles, a pack that included a balaclava, duct tape and nails. Anyone with the merest knowledge of recent Irish history can see how offensive and misjudged a stunt this was. In response, many Irish and British critics have refused to give the film coverage. While I can understand their reticence, I've decided to "play the ball, not the man", as the old Irish saying goes.
Todd should be relieved at the lack of coverage as he's turned out the shoddiest film I've seen since last year's 'Charlie Casanova', sadly another movie hailing from the emerald isle I call home. The publicity stunt had me believing Todd must be an American, as surely no-one from Ireland or Britain could could be so insensitive to the recent politics of the area. The animated credit sequence, which features a left-hand drive car, cemented this thought in my mind. As it turns out, Todd is an Irishman, which makes the film all the more baffling.
Todd seems to set out to make a serial-killer drama in the mold of David Fincher's 'Seven', with Meaney, who struggles with the "Norn Iron" accent here, in the role of the burnt out detective who's set to retire. Todd is no Fincher. With the exception of Meaney, everything in this film smacks of an amateur production. The acting is atrocious, (unusual for an Irish production as it's generally our strength), and the horrifically written dialogue doesn't help matters. The soap opera style lighting is so harsh you can almost see the reflection of the camera crew in Meaney's forehead, and Todd's set-piece construction provokes unintentional laughter as he attempts to ape masters like Brian de Palma and Sergio Leone. The most hilarious set-piece involves a poisoned fish supper and has to be seen to be believed.
If you're distanced enough from the Northern Ireland situation, this could actually serve as a "so bad it's terrific" post-pub watch, as it rivals the productions of Ed Wood for unintended hilarity.

Eric Hillis