Sunday, April 25, 2010

Film Yap: Five Minutes of Heaven

The crime in Ireland makes it for a very scary place. Instead of focusing on all that happens, Five Minutes of Heaven focuses on just one incident. As a kid Alistair Little joins the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) and murders a Catholic teenager to send a message. Alistair spares the life of the younger brother, Joe Griffin, after looking at the little boy in the eyes.

Thirty years later Alistair (Liam Neeson) is out of jail and is living as a reformed man. A TV show wants to set up an interview between him and Joe (James Nesbitt). Amazingly the two agree. Alistair wants to do it for the sake of Joe and Joe wants something else. The tension is almost overwhelming as majority of the movie is the lead-up to this interview.

This is like Frost/Nixon amplified. Joe is on the brink of losing it. He has been obviously traumatized for many years and is on the verge of a panic attack. He is very unstable and brilliantly played by Nesbitt. A voice-over gives further insight to his state of being and that only adds to the suspense. Alistair on the other hand is very articulate and somber about his life. He gives a monologue to the cameras that is amazingly done and unnerving.

What makes this movie even more impactful is the fact that part of this story is true. Everything that happened in the first third of the movie takes place in 1975 is true. This idea of a meet-up is fictionalized but feels so realistic. I never knew where the story was going and once it ended I was so satisfied with every decision.

The director, Oliver Hirschbiegel, made the amazing movie Downfall a few years ago. It was about the last week of Hitler’s regime. It was very powerful while being surprisingly objective. This movie shows his range as he plays with a lot of effective techniques. Whenever Nesbitt had a close-up when he looked right at the camera, I got chills.

The only thing disappointing about this incredible movie is the lame lack of bonus features. The only thing on the disc is the trailer and a five minute featurette about the making of. It’s too bad because this film did really well at Sundance and seems to have an interesting story about how it was made for television. I wish they had features talking about that.

Movie: 4.5 Yaps

Extras: 2 Yaps

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