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
Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt were born in the same town, Ballymena in Northern Ireland. See more »
Little's photograph of Griffin's family changes between shots. In some scenes it has a border and in others it doesn't. See more »
Young Alistair - 1975:
For me to talk about the man I have become, you need to know about the man I was. I was 14 when I joined the Tartan gangs, and I was 15 when I joined the UVF, the Ulster Volunteer Force. 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 ...
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Strong, simple, sometimes even slow, but never irrelevant, and some great acting
Five Minutes of Heaven (2009)
I have a confession--when the movie started I thought, okay, another pro-IRA movie with a heart. And it's not--it's a beautifully balanced movie about the personal horrors of the Northern Ireland bloodshed and the longterm aftermath as participants struggle to keep going.
The two main actors are both from Northern Ireland. Liam Neeson plays a Protestant who as a teenage killed a Catholic worker as part of the tit-for-tat violence of the time. James Nesbitt, a Roman Catholic, plays the brother of the man who was killed, and as a witness to the crime he holds a deep grudge about the murder. And in a key act of political insight, the actors were born on the opposite sides--Neeson was raised Catholic and Nesbitt raised Protestant.
The theme of the film is reconciliation in the mold of South African leader Nelson Mandela. The core of the movie is shot in a fancy Irish mansion where television crews are going to watch as the two men, mortal enemies decades before, make an effort to somehow move on, in public, on t.v.
How it goes is for you to see. The murder in the 1970s is fact, easy enough to believe, and the meeting of the men is fiction. Nesbitt is utterly terrific. You might think he's overacting (he is, of course, overacting) but it's appropriate, and gives this non-action film some intensity. Neeson is strong in his restraint and in the one main scene where he gives a well-written speech about how to understand these horrors he is also terrific.
The filming is extremely simple and in fact the whole scenario is relatively linear, even with all the flashbacks. There are some turns to the events by the last half hour, and in a way this is both the dramatic high and the disappointing low of the film (it resorts to somewhat corny and not quite smartly filmed sequences I won't elaborate). But overall the point is so strong and well meant it's hard to worry too much about whether it's a masterpiece.
It's not. It's sometimes slow, it says stuff we probably have absorbed pretty well by now, and it isn't very complex. But what it does do it does with compassion and conviction.
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