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Black '47

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Ireland, Luxembourg · 2018
Rated R · 1h 40m
Director Lance Daly
Starring Hugo Weaving, James Frecheville, Stephen Rea, Freddie Fox
Genre Drama, Western

Ireland, 1847. The Great Famine has ravaged the country for two long years. Feeney, a hardened Irish Ranger who has been fighting for the British Army abroad, returns home to reunite with his estranged family, only to discover the cruelest reality—a black land where death reigns.

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What are critics saying?


Entertainment Weekly by Chris Nashawaty

Despite its Irish setting, Black ’47 feels more than anything like an American Western, what with its shades-of-grey morality and almost Biblical quest for payback. Like Clint Eastwood’s Bill Munny in "Unforgiven" or John Wayne’s Ethan Edwards in "The Searchers," Martin is a silent avenger pushed to do things he doesn’t want to do but also can’t ignore.


IndieWire by David Ehrlich

While the script is far too spotty and unfocused for the film to be anything more than the sum of its parts, the setting — and the set-pieces that Daly creates from it — is enough to prevent this unlikely genre mash from being a blight of its own.


Slant Magazine by Derek Smith

As the historical specificity embedded in the film’s more expansive opening act is abandoned, the more predictable, archetypal trappings of a revenge narrative begin to take hold.


Screen International by Fionnuala Halligan

Using the Great Hunger as a backdrop for a revenge western is an interesting way to exorcise old ghosts, but the end result drains pathos from the tragedy while muting The Proposition-style genre elements.


The New York Times by Glenn Kenny

Since this is a rare feature film to treat the Irish famine, it’s a little odd that it tilts so heavily toward a genre exercise. But as a genre exercise, it’s pretty potent.


Empire by Ian Freer

Black 47 lacks the seriousness and rigour of other displaced Westerns like The Proposition and Sweet Country. But Lance Daly’s film is gripping enough to suggest Ireland’s tragic backstory is a frontier full of resonant riches.


Variety by Jessica Kiang

Daly’s characterful, slow-burn tale is a well-crafted experiment in grafting genre onto disregarded history.


The Guardian by Peter Bradshaw

It is a harrowingly effective film, though flawed by the actions of Weaving’s officer being unconvincingly motivated at the end, and perhaps born of an emollient screenwriting need to split the difference between the Irish avenger-hero and his enemies.


Film Journal International by Stephen Whitty

This is a simple, macho morality tale—of the oppressors and the oppressed, of good and evil, and of the one man who sets out to settle the scales of justice. And the level on which it works is primal—and frighteningly effective.

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