Thursday, April 16, 2015

Netflix Instant Queue Movie Review: "Five Minutes of Heaven" (2009)

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Movie"Five Minutes of Heaven"
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel
Year: 2009
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 29 minutes

A national television show has arranged a meeting between a man named Joe Griffin (James Nesbitt) and another man named Alistair Little (Liam Neeson), who murdered Joe's brother 33 years earlier. Alistair explains his actions leading up to the murder as the show hopes to give Joe a chance to understand and confront his brother's killer, but Joe may have more than a simple confrontation in mind. 

This is a small film out of the UK that explores the psychological effect of a murder from both sides of the coin. Liam Neeson plays Alistair Little, a man who regrets the actions he committed as a younger man, someone who took up arms for possibly the wrong cause and maybe the wrong reasons. The younger Alistair, played by Mark Ryder, is part of the UVF, or Ulster Volunteer Force, which is recognized as a terrorist organization by the government of the United Kingdom. Though their main purpose was to combat the Irish Republican Army, or IRA, another terrorist group, those involved killed many Catholic civilians who they accused of being militants with little or no proof. Alistair, who is only 17 at the time, is told to kill Joe's brother James, who is a Catholic and someone they believe is an enemy of the UVF as a warning to others who want to support an independent Ireland. Joe witnesses the murder and Alistair does 12 years in prison for his crime. The film then cuts to many years later when Alistair is telling his story on television. He is clearly nervous about his impending meeting with his victim's brother. Joe, played by James Nesbitt, is also uneasy about meeting his brother's killer as he has bottled all of his rage up inside of him. To Joe, Alistair is the man who ruined his life and no explanation or repentance may be good enough to undo the harm he caused. His family was forever changed that day and Joe took the majority of the blame from his parents as he was a witness to the whole thing. Joe wants revenge, or at least he thinks he does, as he ponders whether or not to try and kill Alistair.

The film is all about internal struggles and regret, and you can really see and feel it from both characters. It brings out a lot of philosophical and moral questions within the character, and this transfers very well over to the audience. What would do you if you got to meet the person who killed your loved one? Would you be angry and hateful, or would you try to forgive them, or would you even try to murder them in retaliation for the anger and sadness you feel? Unfortunately, the pacing of the early portion of the film is quite tedious especially during the flashback, but we really enjoyed the end of the film where we watch Joe's internal struggle as he waits to meet the man who ruined his life. Between the excellent acting from both Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt, this movie does have some really intense moments along the way. It is dramatic enough to keep you interested, sad enough to keep you engaged, and maddening enough to make you feel every character's reactions as your own, and in that respect, this movie did its job. The conflict in the UK involving the IRA and UVF is a situation in the world's history we wish we knew more about, and this movie helped open the floor about the wrongs purported at the height of the conflict. 

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 6/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 76%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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