The first-time writer-director certainly laid down a marker here, casting signature actor Stephen Rea as a showband saxophonist who’s shocked by the senseless terrorist shooting of an innocent waif outside a border country dance hall. As he would throughout his subsequent career however, Jordan challenges the audience’s easy moral assumptions when Rea’s angel of vengeance leaves his own bloody trail, lost in a miasma of contradictions once he picks up a gun himself.
Confrontational, spare, and poetic, Jordan’s courageous foray into the dark psychic chasm at the heart of the Troubles remains an indelible landmark in Irish film.
Showing as part of our Neil Jordan Retrospective which runs throughout May. His new film, Byzantium, opens on May 31st.
See our online exhibition of some of Neil Jordan’s substantial document collections held by the IFI Irish Film Archive.