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Five Minutes of Heaven
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From the Oscar®-nominated director of DOWNFALL, the BAFTA-winning screenwriter of OMAGH and star Liam Neeson comes a startling new thriller inspired by true events: In 1975, 17-year-old Irish-Protestant Alistair Little assassinated 19-year-old Catholic Jim Griffin in his Ulster home. The murder was witnessed by Griffin s 11-year-old brother Joe. Thirty years later, Little (Neeson) has been rehabilitated and released from prison, while Joe Griffin (James Nesbitt of BLOODY SUNDAY and JECKYLL) remains traumatized and bitter. But when a television talk show decides to bring them together for a live on-air reconciliation, two men haunted by one moment must come face-to-face with their own worlds of pain, violence and vengeance. Anamaria Marinca of 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS & 2 DAYS co-stars in this must-see drama that dares to explore both sides of Northern Ireland s troubled past as it comes to terms with its still uncertain future.
4 stars. Neeson and Nesbitt hammer it home. --David Fear, Time Out New York
Well performed and thought provoking...A new cinematic twist on a devastating period. --Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times
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Top Customer Reviews
Does forgiveness condone and enable, or free the suffering? Much depends on whether the perpetrator is truly sorry, deeply repentant, while some acts are beyond us and our capacity to forgive. Thirty-three years after the murder of James Griffin (a Catholic), his killer, Alistair Little (Liam Neeson), lives in a sleek contemporary loft as austere as a self-imposed prison. Little was 17 in 1975, during the Northern Irish Troubles, at the time of the killing. He was a member of a loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) cell. Subsequently, Little was arrested and sentenced to prison for 12 years in Maze Prison. In the intervening years, he has worked to redeem himself by renouncing violence and helping others find healing through the Forgiveness Project.
When Alistair Little's gang attacked James Griffin, a little 8-year old boy was outside on the street, practicing bouncing a soccer ball against the wall, an image that flashbacks through the film. It's young Joe Griffin, who watches in helpless horror as the shocking events unfold. Joe's mum (Paula McFetridge) blames her young son; to say he suffers from survivor's guilt is an understatement. His soul is frozen in time. Joe Griffin (James Nesbitt) may have become an adult with a wife and two daughters, but he is back in 1975, reliving the horror over and over again. Compared to the well-off Alistair Little, he lives in far humbler circumstances, haunted by his brother's death. In the film, a television show reunites Little and Griffin, with superb sequences of Nesbitt's Griffin coming undone in the taxi cab on the way to the meeting-site, and coping with the show's producers. Griffin dialogue burns, his anger is palatable, and Nesbitt is perfection; gifted with intensity as in his Jekyll and Murphy's Law: Series One. Anyone with PTSD, who has survived brutality, can deeply understand the duality of Joe Griffin's life.
In real life, Little and Griffin have never met. For this film, screenwriter Guy Hibbert imagined what would happen if a television show attempted to reunite them. Hibbert asked Griffin and Little what would happen if they met: "Joe said he would pull a knife, and Alistair said he would try not to defend himself." With the Forgiveness Project, Little states that, "I don't think I have a right to ask for forgiveness. It only adds insult to injury and places yet another burden upon relatives and family members." Nesbitt and Neeson are both superb inhabiting these tormented characters.
The conclusion of the film profoundly portrays complex inner narrative and change. After meeting up and fighting in the house where the murder took place, Little tells Griffin, "Get rid of me." This isn't about trite forgiveness, but how Griffin must finally free himself from being trapped by the dreadful actions of others. Griffin attends group therapy where he breaks down in tears, realizing he simply seeks to be a good father to his daughters. Griffin then calls Little on his cell phone to inform him that, "We're finished." On the sidewalk, Alistair Little sinks to his knees, grocery bags and all, surrounded by passerby who have no idea what is transpiring, grateful that Joe Griffin can finally love and live a life less bound by pain and simply be, without Little haunting and limiting him.
5 well-deserved stars.
This is a story about guilt, grief, and redemption set in Northern Ireland, as the country tries to get some kind of closure after the horrific events of the "Troubles" in Belfast in the 1970s.
Liam Neeson is a guilt-ridden character who committed a political killing as a teenager to curry favor with the extremists whom he admired. James Nesbitt plays the tortured brother of his victim. The two are to be brought together on a television program to meet for the first time.
Not a lot of action, but an absorbing, thought-provoking film nonetheless. Excellent performances by the two principal actors.