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Reviews & Ratings for
Five Minutes of Heaven More at IMDbPro »

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A brave subject which Liam performs with excellence!

Author: Laszlo K from Australia
3 March 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Having watched many over dramatized movies and countless documentaries about the conflict in Northern Ireland, I approached this movie with trepidation..... Apart from a small dialogue about the tit for tat killings (very true) the movie stayed away from politics and focused on the aftermath. Liam Neeson is an incredibly honest actor, I can't remember ever seeing him over act and that is what made this movie and his role amazing! James Nesbitt came across extremely strong but perhaps that's how it was scripted and it balanced the two main characters very well without them coming face to face for most of the movie. Another standout is Anamaria Marinca, she played her role perfectly.

This movie is outstanding, will get you thinking and most of all, has a very important message about young minds being manipulated!

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Controlled and responsible and well delivered by all involved

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
30 December 2010

More than thirty years after he saw his older brother gunned down by a teenage "member" of the UVF, Joe Griffin's wounds are still fresh and the memories of that night still vivid. For this reason he sincerely doubts his decision to do a one-to-one interview with the killer. For Alistair Little it is a more familiar process as he has done much public soul-searching since his "rehabilitation".

I came to this film attracted by it being set in Ulster, place of my birth and first 18 years alive. The big names in the cast and directing duties also had a part to play and I envisaged this being a raw two-handed between the two men with plenty for both of them to get their teeth into as they play off each other – not sure why I thought this, but I did. The reality is that the two men barely share a scene, and when they do it is brief and ironically not as good as when they are apart doing their own thing with their own character. In the majority of the film we come to understand (well, in a simple way at least) the two men and who they have become as a result of that one shared event in their lives. How things appear are not necessarily the way they are and where the power lies is equally blurred. This continues as we learn about the two men.

Many viewers may be disappointed about how the film plays out, because there isn't really a handful of "big" actorly scenes but rather a slow and steady development which speaks more of a numbing and long-lasting pain on all sides – which is convincing and befitting the situation in the region. It doesn't offer easy answers and, although some of it can be interpreted as pat, it mostly manages to avoid being obvious or clichéd in what it is saying. Both Nesbit and Neeson are on good form and, in hindsight, the lack of showboating material is only a good thing. They play it subtle and they play it very well. Nesbit impressed me the most because if I'm honest I expected less from him but he does very well. Neeson is solid and controlled but reveals much with the delivery of key scenes. Beyond the two of them there may as well be anyone since they are the focus, but supporting turns from Marinca, Orr and a few others don't distract.

Overall Five Minutes of Heaven is not an earth shattering film nor is it a firey one. Instead it is a controlled study of the impacts beyond the bullets on two specific characters. While it tends towards cliché the manner of delivery from all involved mean it doesn't ever become pat or obvious but rather remains natural and convincing. Well worth seeing.

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Now that's what I call a psychological thriller

Author: rooprect from New York City
3 November 2010

A lot of people think a psychological thriller is when a guy goes psycho, chops people into little bits and eats them. Maybe so. But this film presents what I think a true psychological thriller should be: a story without necessarily a lot of action, without gimmicky plot twists, instead drawing our attention to the complex minds of the characters involved.

Examples of great psychological thrillers would be Fritz Lang's "M", Alfred Hitchcock's "The Rope", Blatty's "The Exorcist III", Oliver Stone's "Talk Radio", and now Hirschbiegel's "Five Minutes of Heaven".

There are no car chases, explosions, chainsaws, dungeons, cannibals or freaky witches hiding in closets. But through a great script & mastery of the cinematic medium, the director manages to keep us on the edge of our seats not knowing what's going to happen next. The movie starts with a shocking crime, and for the next 90 minutes we want to see how it will turn out. That's all I'll say, except to note that the 2 lead actors (Liam Neeson & James Nesbitt) deliver some powerful, satisfying performances.

Oh, and the direction is first rate. There are lots of long, tense scenes with no camera cuts, with the camera moving around as if we were in the room watching firsthand. If you enjoyed the films I mentioned above, I think you'll really like this movie.

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It Rings True

Author: nyshrink from United States
2 October 2010

I'm writing this review to state that having counseled people who've committed murder, I think this film rings true. Both characters are portrayed with psychological accuracy. I also thought the film was quite suspenseful, since we know at some point there is going to be a confrontation, but we don't know when or exactly how. This type of real-life suspense is much more nerve-wracking than a contrived chase scene with fake explosions in a Hollywoood movie.

I'm not an expert on Irish history so I can't critique the film from that angle. I'm not sure whether it matters as this type of story could take place in the setting of any of many conflicts.

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Flawed Northern Ireland drama

Author: Brigid O Sullivan (wisewebwoman) from Toronto, Canada
3 August 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film had great potential and missed the mark widely. Too much repetitive dialogue, too many 2 x 4s which ruined the subtlety.

This is based on a true story: In 1975 Alistair Little murdered Jimmy Griffin with a young witness, Joe, Jimmy's little brother. Alistair would have murdered Joe also if he had known of the relationship.

The script hypothesizes a reconciliation on film between the two main characters Alistair (Liam Neeson) and Joe (James Nesbitt).

The Troubles of Northern Island are well captured: the coldness of a killing to achieve manhood and heroism, with differences in religion being the only excuse.

It is when the film shifts to today that a clunkiness sets in where a lightness of touch is called for. James Nesbitt, a brilliant actor, overplays scenes that should have been far more subtle, case in point being the shiv he keeps taking out and fondling. Yeah, we really get it. And are smart enough to make the connection to Alistair fondling the gun previously the first time.

A fight scene falls (no pun intended) completely flat. As does the 'are they dead?' of the fight at the OK Corral. This is where a psychological war of words would have really played well. I didn't believe it for a second. And a rather forced key role of a 'runner' stole from the tension between the two men. Stark "show don't tell" moment would have worked very well here. Instead we are offered the gossip of the runner commenting on her interactions with the two leads.

The ending was way too over the top for me. Liam Neeson on his knees in the middle of London while on a cell phone. No! Understatement would have worked way, way better.

6 out of 10 for the leads, and an F for the script. Liam and James were great.

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Five Minutes of Heaven: One Killer Movie with A Killer Performances from Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt

Author: bobbylabonte18 from United States
19 July 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In Five Minutes of Heaven, Liam Neeson plays a killer with a truly sorrowful mindset as they try to get him and the brother of the man he killed to reconcile on Irish Television, but the brother plans on stabbing the Neeson character on live television. The plot of this movie could in my opinion, make two separate masterpiece films. The first half deals with Alistair Little (Neeson) and his joining the UVF and killing Joe Griffin's (James Nesbitt) brother within the orders of his commander. The second half deals with a freshly released from prison Alistair and his meeting with Joe on Irish television for the reconciliation, little known that Joe was planning to stab him on live television in front of many viewers. Thanks to the two parted plot and fantastic performances from Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt, you all must see Five Minutes of Heaven.

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Darkness cannot drive out darkness . . .

Author: rlowe30 ( from New Orleans
10 July 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

Martin Luther King

This story is universal; it has been told countless times over the course of human history. Like most universal passages, it needs to be retold in different times and places in order to remind us that what was true when Homer wrote is just as true when Shakespeare wrote and remains as true today in this film. James Nesbitt does impressive work as Joe, who as a ten-year old witnesses his brother gunned down by an IRA gang. He is contacted by a local television program who wants to interview him and his brother's killer thirty years later. Nesbitt manages to walk an excruciatingly thin line between sanity and madness as he decides whether or not to do the interview. His scene descending the stairs is a case study in brilliant physical acting. Liam Neeson turns in a predictably powerful performance. He unveils the ravages of guilt which have stripped his life of any richness. Guy Hibbert has written a beautiful screenplay, allowing the actors to plumb the frightening abyss of pain, rage, revenge, and resolution. Highly recommended.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

small scales study of "the troubles" in northern ireland

Author: browne-gerard-1 from Ireland
27 April 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Oliver Hirschbiegel, director of contemporary German classics The Experiment(2001) and Downfall (2004) turns his attention to the troubles in Northern Ireland. Liam Neeson is cast as a former UVF member who carried out an assassination on James Nesbitts brother. The pair are about to meet for the first time since the murder, Hirschbiegel ratchets up the tension to an almost unbearable level for the first three quarters of the film. The change of pace after the television interview sequence allows the film to play out as a reconciliation peace for both leads characters. Due to its short running time it never feels overlong. Neeson delivers his best performance in years Nesbitt is also quite impressive.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Excellent look at how the past shapes our present and how we must move on. Enlightening, entertaining and very moving

Author: dbborroughs from Glen Cove, New York
4 May 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Fact based fictional account about the meeting of two men, one who killed the brother of the other as part of the sectarian violence in Northern Ireland. The meeting, arranged by a television network, is suppose to illustrate how people are coming together, however for the two men the event is something else. Where it goes and how it goes is not what you expect, it wasn't what I expected. Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt as the two men are excellent. Neeson as the shooter looking for absolution, but never saying it, is a quiet tower of seeming strength while underneath he's bubbling with uncertainty.Nesbitt is all nervous twitches and ticks. He's very funny in his refusal to deal with the man who he saw killed his brother. He is haunted by the need to take revenge even though he wants never to have to do so. I thought his character and performance were amusing and wrong for a portion of the film until I suddenly understood it was right on target and perfectly done. This is a unique and very real look at how we deal with the wrongs we have done and had done to ourselves. By the time the film had ended I found myself moved several times, probably more so in that the film doesn't punctuate each moment with swelling music or dramatic flourishes. This is a film where the small moments move you, something as simple as a smile makes you weepy. I recommend this film highly. Its not the best film ever made but it neatly gets its point across in such away that you are forced to reflect and perhaps change. Certainly its better than the self serving big budgeted Hollywood films like Crossing Over where issues are addressed but don't seem connected to reality. See this film it will entertain and enlighten

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4 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Truth And Reconciliation?

Author: crossbow0106 from United States
22 August 2009

This is a simple enough story but it is powerfully told, especially given the excellent performances of Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt. Liam's character killed James' character (Joe Griffen's) when Joe was a child. Joe witnessed the incident, just standing there. As a result Joe's mother always blamed him for not doing anything. Over thirty years later. they agree to meet on camera to talk. Joe is still emotionally scarred from this and vows to kill his brother's murderer, in what was then a time in Northern Ireland when "the troubles" were particularly evident. This is a psychological drama, and, as stated, the two main actors are wonderful. You can see on their face what is on their mind. I applaud what is a fairly straightforward telling of such a still controversial and divisive topic. This movie's goal is not to change the world, but give you a window into a still open wound. On that mark, it succeeds admirably.

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