Five Minutes of Heaven Half of Five Minutes of Heaven really happened: In 1975, during the thick of conflict in Northern Ireland, 11-year-old Irish-Catholic Joe Griffin witnessed the assassination… Five Minutes of Heaven Half of Five Minutes of Heaven really happened: In 1975, during the thick of conflict in Northern Ireland, 11-year-old Irish-Catholic Joe Griffin witnessed the assassination… 2009-08-21 Unrated PT90M Drama Liam Neeson James Nesbitt IFC Films
Movie Review

Five Minutes of Heaven (2009)

MPAA Rating: Unrated
Five Minutes of Heaven | HE TAKES A LICKING James Nesbitt and Liam Neeson play rough in Five Minutes Of Heaven
HE TAKES A LICKING James Nesbitt and Liam Neeson play rough in Five Minutes Of Heaven
EW's GRADE
B-

Details Limited Release: Aug 21, 2009; Rated: Unrated; Length: 90 Minutes; Genre: Drama; With: Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt; Distributor: IFC Films

Half of Five Minutes of Heaven really happened: In 1975, during the thick of conflict in Northern Ireland, 11-year-old Irish-Catholic Joe Griffin witnessed the assassination of his older brother, Jim, at the hands of 17-year-old 
Irish-Protestant Alistair Little. Three decades later, Griffin is an angry, stricken man. Little, who served time in prison, now runs workshops in conflict resolution for prisoners.

The other half of this earnest, urgent movie is a fantasy: What if the adult Griffin (James Nesbitt) and Little (Liam Neeson) were offered their own session of conflict resolution? On television, no less, at a stately home rented for the purpose? Five Minutes of Heaven — the phrase is Griffin's description of how he'd feel avenging his brother's death — isn't a ballsy truth-bender like Inglourious Basterds. Director Oliver Hirschbiegel (Downfall) and screenwriter Guy Hibbert (Omagh) take pains to honor psychological truth. But in that quest, and especially in the convoluted dramatic conceit of a camera crew filming so intimate a confrontation, the film's artifice battles the subject matter. It's 
an original movie idea that feels written for the stage, all the more so since so much of our attention is diverted to admiring how the actors act, in roles with a high degree of technical 
 difficulty. A forceful Neeson and an even more intense Nesbitt (Bloody Sunday) both show their stuff and obscure the unrelieved pain 
 endured by the men they portray. B-

(Five Minutes of Heaven is also available on cable on-demand services.)

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Originally posted Aug 25, 2009 Published in issue #1063 Sep 04, 2009 Order article reprints