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Five Minutes of Heaven

Five Minutes of Heaven

Five Minutes of Heaven


par Guide Irlande

Five Minutes of Heaven is a British film directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel and starring Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt. A strong film, Five Minutes of Heaven tells the unlikely meeting of two men, one a loyalist, the other a Republican, the first of whom coldly murdered the brother of the second before his very eyes… 33 years after the drama, the two men agree to meet on a television show to symbolize reconciliation in Northern Ireland…

Summary of the film

When the victim meets his executioner…

The story begins in a Northern Ireland of the seventies, at a time when the conflict in Northern Ireland is getting worse and worse… Little Alistair, then aged 17, is a member of the UVF… His mission was to murder in cold blood a Catholic, the eldest of the Griffin family… To achieve his objective, he goes hooded into the Griffin family’s neighborhood, points his gun at his target and coldly shoots the young man… All this under the traumatized eyes of Joe Griffin, the victim’s younger brother, who was playing football outside, against a wall of the house… Alistair stares at the petrified intruder for a long time, then decides to leave the premises…

33 years later, Joe Griffin and Little Alistair agreed to meet under the eye of the cameras to better symbolise reconciliation in Northern Ireland, now involved in a Peace Process still in its infancy… Little Alistair has obviously served 12 years in prison for his past murder, while Joe Griffin is a broken man, haunted by the tragedy he experienced as a child.

Both are apprehensive about their meeting: what will come out of it? Must Joe Griffin murder his brother’s murderer? Or should he forgive him?

Our Opinion

An encounter that illustrates the complexity of the Northern Irish conflict and the desire for reconciliation

Although the film went rather unnoticed at its release, Five Minutes of Heaven has the merit of being a courageous film… What could be more ambitious than tackling a theme such as the meeting of two men, one a victim, the other a murderer, to illustrate the complex situation in Northern Ireland?

Oliver Hirschbiegel thus seems to believe that a confrontation between Republicans and Loyalists could allow Northern Ireland to disentangle itself from its past, to go beyond the stage of vengeful feelings and thus give way to forgiveness in favour of the Peace Process currently underway…

The subject is magnificently illustrated thanks to a performance of the most exceptional actors: Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt are poignant, touching, and both play characters of great realism, both broken by a past from which they cannot free themselves…

The character of Joe Griffin sometimes borders on schizophrenia, so much the latter has been shaken by the murder of his brother… Halfway between hysteria and anguish, the latter finds himself terrorized by the idea of meeting his brother’s killer and seems torn by the desire to renew the dialogue or the irrepressible desire to take revenge by killing him. As for Little Alistair, the latter also seems haunted by his gesture… The latter has obviously paid for his crime with 12 years in prison, and has never stopped fighting to make people aware of his story to prevent them from sinking into violence too. Liam Neeson thus plays a repentant murderer, haunted by his act, wishing to make amends by any means possible… This is why he is desperate to meet Joe Griffin, to allow him to finally leave behind the tragedy he is responsible for.

The meeting will be poignant and violent in the end… The victim longs for revenge, while the murderer wants to be forgiven… From their confrontation, little dialogue will be born, but it will nevertheless allow them to close a most painful chapter in their lives…

Only hola however: we reproach the film in VF a dubbing of the most calamitous, which completely breaks the realism of the characters… (Especially that of Joe Griffin, whose hysterical perched voice doesn’t fit the character at all). We therefore advise you to watch it in subtitled O.V., to enjoy it…







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