Belfast blues for squaddie lost and in fear for his life

A scene from Belfast-set movie 71

A scene from Belfast-set movie 71 - Credit: Archant

Taut thriller turns back the clock at Royston’s Picture Palace

The two films being screened at Royston’s Picture Palace this week would be unlikely to feature on a multiplex bill of fare.

Friday night’s offering is grim Belfast-set thriller 71, a much-praised recent release which didn’t have enough commercial appeal to make much impression against the Hollywood blockbusters.

It’s directed by Yann Demange, stepping up from no nonsense TV dramas like Top Boy.

Just as Vietnam provided source material for a whole generation of American film-makers, now the Belfast of the 1970s is being given the big screen treatment.

This sharp and suspense-filled thriller puts the focus on a British squaddie – an orphan joining up just to get a job and a chance of a better life – who finds himself cut off from his comrades and lost on the hostile streets traumatised by The Troubles.

He can’t tell who are friends and who are foes, but he has to try and stay alive while his superiors do their best to mount a rescue operation.

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That’s followed on Saturday by Ida, which takes us to Poland in the 1960s where another orphan, Anna, is brought up by nuns in a convent.

Before she takes her vows and commits to life as a nun herself, she goes to see her only living relative, and learns about her Jewish roots.

That’s the start of a journey not only to find their family’s tragic story, but to see who they really are and where they belong.

Both films are screened at 7.30pm, you can find out more and book tickets online at

On wider release we’re heading back into the holiday season, so get set to cuddle up to Paddington, the wellie-clad bear’s step up to the big screen with Ben Whishaw providing the voice after Colin Firth stepped aside from duffle-coat duties.

It’s a blend of animation and live action with lots of familiar faces involved – perfect family fare, even if you don’t like marmalade sandwiches.

There’s also, if you insist, Horrible Bosses 2, which is what happens when enough people go along to see a crass comedy littered with star names but without that many laughs.

The box office returns were good enough to green light a sequel, and there is clearly no intention to meddle with a winning formula for the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Jason Batman and Kevin Spacey. Indeed, the tagline is: New Crime, Same Tools. Indeed.