A small time thief from Belfast, Gerry Conlon, is falsely implicated in the IRA bombing of a pub that kills several people while he is in London. Bullied by the British police, he and four of his friends are coerced into confessing their guilt. Gerry's father and other relatives in London are also implicated in the crime. He spends 15 years in prison with his father trying to prove his innocence with the help of a British attorney, Gareth Peirce. Based on a true story. Written by
Liza Esser <email@example.com>
In watching this fine film, on idea kept running though my mind. That being terrorism often hurts the innocent much more than the declared enemy. In the Name of the Father is a powerful, well-acted drama about terrorism and injustice. And also the love one man feels for his father. Some of the events in this film are factual, and others are not. Despite some liberties taken with history, the film still makes a strong point, however.
Daniel Day-Lewis plays Gerry Conlon, a young man falsely accused along with several other friends and family members, of bombing a London pub in 1974. The bombing, performed by the IRA, killed a few persons and wounded several others. Conlon and his friends just happen to be near by when the bombing takes place. Through police torture, Conlon and his best friend confess to the crime, thinking a trial will exonerate them. Trouble is, there had been so many recent bombings that the legal system in Britain was just crying out for a scapegoat. Conlon and four friends are given life sentences. Several members of Conlon's family are also given stiff jail sentences. Even his own father who seems to be the most righteous and kind person imaginable and who never set foot in England at all during the time of the bombing!
The film starts out like a shot from a cannon, as we see just how violent and chaotic Blefast was during the early seventies. Just living a normal life looked impossible. If the British troops weren't after you, then the IRA members were. The film also scores when we see Conlon head off to London to presumably make a better life for himself. He and a friend force themselves into a commune and enjoy a brief period of free love and decadence. The film gets very heavy once Conlon is arrested and tortured. And the last hour detailing his time behind bars is just plain somber. We watch his father just sort of waste away with him behind bars while an aggressive lawyer (Emma Thompson) fights to get them out. Pete Postletwaite is exceptional as Gerry's father, and seeing him grow sicker and weak is very difficult for the viewer.
The film tries to shift gears down the stretch and show how Conlon has become determined and more radicalized, but these scenes are nothing spectacular. Even the conclusion seems a little anti-climatic, but at least we see some justice finally get done. The acting is very, very good. Lewis is as good as ever, and nobody looks out of their league. There are some historical liberties taken. Gerry and his father never actually lived in the same cell, for instance. Overall, this film will stick with you, though.
In watching this film, one cannot help but feel for the victims of terrorism. I have personally not much knowledge of the conflict between the IRA and Britain, except to say that I'm well aware of how long and deep the scars run between the English and Irish peoples. That said, there is simply no excuse for terrorism. Look at how many victims that pub bombing created. Not only those who perished or were injured. That act of terror sent several innocent people to jail and ruined their lives! The British legal system is certainly to blame for sending the wrong people to jail, but would this have even happened if the IRA had not bombed that pub? A similar situation can be seen in the Middle East today. Radical Muslims look to strike out at Western interests, but their actions often hurt scores more other Muslims than any actual Western interests! Will we ever all learn to get along on this planet?
8 of 10 stars.
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