About-face

That feeling when the injustices of history are addressed…

***

The Siege of Jadotville
Cert: 15A

THE fate of the Irish UN Battalion who resisted a six-day attack in Jadotville in the Congo is one of the more shameful passages of modern Irish life. The 150 men of that company and their equally heroic leader, Commander Patrick Quinlan, were shunned on their return after a month in a prison camp following their surrender. It was only through pressure from their families that a 2004 enquiry was held into what actually happened in that 1961 incident and the men could shed the “Jadotville Jack” slur and have their bravery recognised.

Jamie Dornan ably steps into the role of Quinlan in this functional retelling of the events. After a brief intro prepping at home and an expository reminder that Ireland is a neutral country not prone to military conflicts, the action turns to sun-baked Congo where a secessionist government in Katanga is using French and Belgian mercenaries to protect its uranium mines. When a militia loyal to that government attacks the small outpost where the Irishmen are stationed, Quinlan, right-hand man Sgt Jack Prendergast (Jason O’Mara) and the troops bed down and inflict heavy causalities despite being hugely outnumbered, short on ammo and supplies, and largely left for dead by pawn-moving overseers back at headquarters.

This Netflix Original production does a commendable job in bringing the truth to a wider audience. Newcomer Richie Smyth’s film is light on frills, as it should be, the only indulgence being some persistent mood music. Dornan puts in a sterling turn alongside a solid cast that includes Michael McElhatton and Rob Strong (as “The Cruiser” himself, Conor Cruise O’Brien).

4/5

First published in the Sunday Independent

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Published by

Hilary A White

Dublin-based arts journalist and reviewer, specialising in film, books, music and human-interest stories. Sunday Independent / Irish Independent / State.ie / RTE Radio 1 / Today FM

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