With 1995's Nothing Personal, director and cinematographer Thaddeus O'Sullivan produced one of the most brutal accounts of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland ever committed to celluloid. A searing, uncompromising drama that centered on the personal side of the troubles, rather than the political, the film inspired one critic to write that it was "to Michael Collins what Platoon is to The Green Berets. O'Sullivan himself emphasized the universality of Nothing Personal, saying, "the same story could be playing out in any war zone you could name."
Born in Dublin in 1947, O'Sullivan received an M.A. in film and television from the Royal College of Art. He worked throughout the 1970s and '80s as a cinematographer, and he made his feature directorial debut with 1990's December Bride. A moody period drama set in 19th century Ireland, it told the story of a young woman (Saskia Reeves) who scandalizes a community by having a child out of wedlock with one of the two brothers who employ her as a housekeeper. Although the film had limited release in the U.S., it was embraced by a number of critics.
O'Sullivan followed December Bride with Nothing Personal five years later. The acclaim surrounding the latter provided the director with his true breakthrough, something reflected in the star wattage on display in his next effort, Ordinary Decent Criminal. Starring Kevin Spacey as a modern-day Dublin gangster who manages to rob, cheat, and womanize while maintaining unimpeachable charm, the film recalled John Boorman's The General, which told the story of real-life gangster Martin Cahill.