Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Five Minutes of Heaven


In Northern Ireland in 1975, Protestant Alistair Little (Liam Neeson) guns down Catholic James Griffin, while Griffin’s little brother Joe (James Nesbitt) watches, frozen in horror. Thirty-three years later they are to be brought together for the first time on a reality TV show called “One on One.” Purpose: Truth and reconciliation. This strikes me as a terrible idea. Not quite on the level of Jerry Springer, where trailer-trash rabid-dog people are pointed at each other and encouraged to fight, but still bad. And in fact it doesn’t come off. Joe has brought a knife, intending to kill Alistair, his “Five minutes of heaven,” but he finds he can’t do it in front of the cameras. Alistair has spent his life trying to make amends by preaching against violence and counseling others who have done horrible things, teaching them to learn to live with it. But he himself can’t. The face of the young boy haunts him. Joe has his own obsessions, brought on mostly by his mother, who blames him for his brother’s death. This is all handled very well, I thought, and comes to a satisfying conclusion. No one is forgiven, no apology is accepted, no murder is committed, but the worst part of the past is at least buried. The acting is on a high level, and Nesbitt really shines. Also, Anamaria Marinca in a small part steals some scenes. Recommended.