It’s 1847 and Ireland is in the grip of the Great Famine that has ravaged the country for two long years. Feeney, a hardened Irish Ranger who has been fighting for the British Army abroad, abandons his post to return home and re-unite with his estranged family.

After fighting for the British crown in the war in Afghanistan, Martin Feeney returns to his Irish homeland as a deserter and finds his country in dire straits. Potato blight has destroyed the crops and over a million people have perished in the resulting famine. Martin’s family has also been affected: his mother is among the victims and his brother has been sentenced to death by the British occupying forces.

Martin’s plan to emigrate to the USA with his sister-in-law and her children fails, and witnessing his last remaining relatives wasting away almost robs him of the will to live. In desperation, he begins a bloody vendetta across the social and political hierarchy of Ireland. To stop this wrathful avenger, the British hire Inspector Hobson who fought with Martin in Afghanistan. Lance Daly draws on motifs from the western for his drama about a dark chapter of British colonialism in neighbouring Ireland that has rarely been told on the big screen.

The gritty realism of the film’s photography conveys the misery of a suffering people and describes individuals cast adrift in austere landscapes.

Reviews

Daly’s restrained, pared-down style is the opposite of ashy exploitation cinema, but watching these bastions of lethally repressive British rule get some overdue comeuppance is similarly stirring.