Half-truth and reconciliation are the driving forces behind this powerful drama from the writer of Omagh (Guy Hibbert), which takes a real-life tragedy as the starting point for a hard-hitting exploration of Northern Ireland’s troubled past and uneasy future.
Beginning with a recreation of the events leading up to Catholic labourer Jim Griffen’s death at the hands of a Ulster Volunteer Force recruit Alistair Little in 1975, Oliver Hirschbiegel’s film then moves to the present day to imagine what might occur if the shooter – now a reformed ambassador for peaceful resolution – were brought face-to-face with his victim’s brother by a TV documentary crew.
Will they shake hands and move on? Or will the latter murder the former, as the victim’s brother Joe Griffen has reportedly pledged to do if he ever finds himself alone with the real Little?
The tension between documented fact and interpretative fiction make this a gripping affair that’s further enhanced by the intriguing disparity between its leading men.
As Little, Liam Neeson presents a stoical veneer that gets chipped away to reveal the guilt-ridden man within. As Joe Griffen, James Nesbitt is all chain-smoking angst, brimming with emotion that eventually spills over.
The disc’s interviews reveal that while Nesbitt was happy to talk to the inspiration behind his character pre-filming, Neeson chose to wait.
Whatever works – the performances are certainly forceful enough to offset the rather fanciful climax.
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