Five Minutes of Heaven (2009)

R  |   |  Drama  |  27 February 2009 (Ireland)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 6.7/10 from 10,345 users   Metascore: 62/100
Reviews: 48 user | 85 critic | 15 from

The story of former UVF member Alistair Little. Twenty-five years after Little killed Joe Griffen's brother, the media arrange an auspicious meeting between the two.


Watch Trailer
0Check in

Watch Now

From $14.99 on Amazon Video

8 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

The Other Man (2008)
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

The story of a husband who suspects his wife of adultery, and sets out to track down the other man in her life.

Director: Richard Eyre
Stars: Liam Neeson, Antonio Banderas, Laura Linney
Action | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

At the end of the Civil War, a colonel hunts down a man with whom he has a grudge.

Director: David Von Ancken
Stars: Pierce Brosnan, Liam Neeson, Anjelica Huston
After.Life (2009)
Drama | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

A young woman caught between life and death... and a funeral director who appears to have the gift of transitioning the dead, but might just be intent on burying her alive.

Director: Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo
Stars: Christina Ricci, Liam Neeson, Justin Long
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel
Stars: Hannelore Elsner, Wanja Mues
Biography | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Neil Jordan's historical biopic of Irish revolutionary Michael Collins, the man who led a guerrilla war against the UK and who helped negotiate the creation of the Irish Free State.

Director: Neil Jordan
Stars: Liam Neeson, Aidan Quinn, Julia Roberts
Documentary | Music | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

On October 12th 1978 New York Police discovered the lifeless body of a 20 year-old woman, slumped under the bathroom sink in a hotel room. She was dressed in her underwear and had bled to ... See full summary »

Director: Alan G. Parker
Stars: Alan Jones, Steve Dior, George Slattery
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

Two parents deal with the effects when their son is accused of murdering his girlfriend.

Director: Barbet Schroeder
Stars: Meryl Streep, Liam Neeson, Edward Furlong
Crime | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A married couple's life is turned upside down when the wife is accused of a murder.

Director: Paul Haggis
Stars: Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson
The Grey (2011)
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

After their plane crashes in Alaska, six oil workers are led by a skilled huntsman to survival, but a pack of merciless wolves haunts their every step.

Director: Joe Carnahan
Stars: Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney, Frank Grillo
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Based on Martin McGartland's shocking real life story. Martin is a young lad from west Belfast in the late 1980s who is recruited by the British Police to spy on the IRA. He works his way ... See full summary »

Director: Kari Skogland
Stars: Ben Kingsley, Jim Sturgess, Kevin Zegers
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel
Stars: Ben Becker, Siegfried Kernen, Samuel Finzi
Crime | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A gung-ho ex-military man pursues a secret life of crime, culminating in the kidnapping of a teenage heiress.

Director: Ian Merrick
Stars: Donald Sumpter, Debbie Farrington, Marjorie Yates


Cast overview, first billed only:
Young Alistair: 1975 (as Mark Davison)
Diarmuid Noyes ...
Mathew McElhinney ...
Kevin O'Neill ...
Gerard Jordan ...
Paula McFetridge ...
Gerry Doherty ...
Luke O'Reilly ...
Luke McEvoy ...
Aoibheann Biddle ...
Ruth Matthewson ...


In February, 1975, in Northern Ireland, seventeen year-old UVF member Alistair Little kills the catholic Jimmy Griffin in his house in Lurgan in front of his younger brother Joe Griffin. Alistair is arrested and imprisoned for twelve years while Joe is blamed by his mother for not saving his brother. Thirty-three years later, a TV promotes the meeting of Alistair and Joe in a house in River Finn, expecting the truth and the reconciliation of the murderer and the victim who actually seeks five minutes of heaven. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


To face the future, they must face the past.



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

27 February 2009 (Ireland)  »

Also Known As:

Cinco minutos de gloria  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$5,364 (USA) (21 August 2009)


$13,217 (USA) (28 August 2009)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


| (archive footage)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The little boy he delivers the note from Liam Neeson's character was named "Liam." See more »


In the scene where Alistair (as a teenager) is rummaging through the box under his bed, he extracts a knitted stuffed animal and places it beside the box with the head facing away from him. When he pulls out the gun, the stuffed animal is now lying with its head closest to him. See more »


Alistair Little: [Talking to tv camera] For me to talk about the man I have become, you need to know about the man I was. I was fourteen when I joined the tartan gangs and I was fifteen when I joined the UVF. At that time, don't forget, there were riots on the streets every week; petrol bombs everyday, and that was just in our town. When you got home and switched on the TV, you could see what was happening in every other town as well, and it was like we were under siege. Fathers and brothers and friends were ...
See more »


References Jaws (1975) See more »


Holy Pictures
Written and Performed by David Holmes
Courtesy of Mercury Records Limited
Under license from Universal Music Operations
Published by Universal/Island Music Limited
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Shadow of a Gunman...
22 March 2010 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The title is the first thing that shocks in this thought-provoking BBC drama on the supposed reconciliation of murderer and victim on the opposing sides of the "Irish Troubles" - James Nesbitt's damaged character equates "five minutes of heaven" to the feeling he anticipates when he takes his long sought revenge against against the now grown-up teenage gunman who shot down his big brother in front of his disbelieving infant eyes.

Taking a documentary approach, involving the use of hand-held camera shots and vernacular language, the film commences with a suspenseful 20 minute prelude to the modern-day action, by taking us back to the initial killing in Lurgan and the cold-blooded slaying of an innocent Catholic whose only crime is not leaving town quickly enough under orders of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). The film then jumps forward as we see the James Nesbitt and Liam Neeson characters now grown up and preparing for a staged rapprochement in front of TV cameras. At first Nesbitt seems the more damaged, edgy, strung out, never able to exorcise the sight of what he saw as a child. Neeson's character seems calmer and more prepared, indeed, he's almost "dined-out" on his experiences re-living his experiences to various support groups down the years. However, when the time comes for him to face the actual witness to his crime, he too buckles under he pressure and in the end both men are irresistibly drawn to one other to expiate their demons at first violently and then calmly, by the conclusion.

The film works through the power of the source material, the naturalness of the direction and the conviction of the acting, especially by the principals. Nesbitt, so often the BBC's go-to tough guy is here a twitching, on-the-edge individual, who although on the face of it a happily married family man, has never satisfactorily confronted his demons. Neeson, having served, we're told 12 years in prison and as stated re-counted his experience several times over, nonetheless inhabits the same emotional no-man's-land as Nesbitt, indeed, there is no reference to him having any family whatsoever.

A few scenes didn't ring true, for one thing Nesbitt's mother's rage against her pre-teenage son's not somehow protecting his adult brother from an older gunman, seems misplaced. I rather think any mother would have ultimately been relieved that he'd survived never mind that he was the only one left behind as all the other family members went out separately on the fateful night. Perhaps too, the scenes involving the staged-for-TV meet-up between Murphy & Neeson go on too long (in particular a pointless drawn-out exchange between Nesbitt and a female "runner") while on a more basic level, there's really no way either man should have got up unharmed after pitching out a first floor window climaxing their "danse-macabre" at the climax.

There's a debatable point too about whether the film couldn't have been stretched to show both sides of the fence, i.e. a parallel story on the impact of IRA killings on the Protestant community, but the film is more about the universal themes of corrupted innocence, guilt, revenge and ultimately forgiveness that I can understand the film-maker honing his story down to the essence of these two characters. Ultimately, the story ends on a positive note, when the unconditional loving smile of Nesbitt's young daughter returns him to the present and effectively acts as the catalyst to free both men from the yoke of their memories.

As someone who grew up when the daily news was filled with stories of mutual atrocities on the Irish divide, this was a sobering and at times harrowing depiction of what it must have been like - leaving just one mystery for the outset a titled legend talks about the piece as a fiction and yet the end titles seem to credit real-life characters bearing the names of those played out in the drama. Whither the truth?

7 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
This movie sucked and was not what I expected RaincoatKiller
Nesbitt is brilliant jijineiro
out the window scene Beano1
Similar movies ? jellehaemels
How can I see this movie?? mzmac
Saw the premier at Sundance. WOW! McConkeysbowl
Discuss Five Minutes of Heaven (2009) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page