15 August 1998: the Real IRA exploded a bomb on a crowded street in Omagh, just into Northern Ireland, to halt the Good Friday accords and peace process; 29 people died. Families formed the Omagh Support Group to press the police in their inquiries. The film focuses on the Gallagher family, who lose their son Aiden. His father, Michael, a mechanic, becomes chair of the support group. The press for answers strains his relationship with his wife. High-ranking police speak in bromides. Shadowy figures offer intelligence that calls into question the integrity before and after the bombing of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and its Special Branch. Will the murders remain unsolved?Written by
The song "Broken Things" which was sung by Julie Miller at the end of the film, was performed at the memorial service for the Omagh bomb victims by local singer Juliet Turner. See more »
[on meeting Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein leader]
Where's Lawrence? Stanley wouldn't come on principle, nor Godfrey or Ann Wilson. We should have spoken to the others at the very least, Lawrence. You didn't handle this right, you're gonna upset the whole group.
Are you coming or not? Gerry Adams is in a room there. And he's gonna have to face ME.
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A new face every two minutes
The most salient fact about this TV movie is that its two hours' running time includes 65 speaking parts. Torn between focusing on one or two human stories behind Northern Ireland's worst terrorist outrage and giving a panorama of the politics that led to it, the production settles for wheeling on almost every Ulster character actor you ever saw and others besides. Even an Oscar winner, Brenda Fricker, is in there somewhere, so she is: blink and you'll miss her.
This jittery kaleidoscope creates confusion and dissipates sympathy; as soon as we begin to dig into one victim's backstory, we're off at another tangent. Neither good art nor good commerce, such worthy exercises in the reconstruction of recent events fall between the stools of documentary and drama.
Like many, "Omagh" is shot in "swivelvision" in the common but quite mistaken belief that this makes it look more "real"-- as though documentarists had never learned to use Steadicam. It tiptoes delicately through the minefield of libel that bedevils moveimakers trying to portray unresolved situations: a title at the end tells us that the suspected bombers all deny involvement, so there is no catharsis to be obtained by showing them going to jail. Making us feel sorry for the bereaved is easy meat; but like many an American "issue" movie, all this one will generate in viewers outside Northern Ireland is smug relief at being hors de combat.
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