WRITER: Guy Hibbert
DIRECTOR: Oliver Hirschbiegel
between 2001 and 2005, director oliver hirschbiegel made four films in his native germany - two of which were the pretty good Das Experiment and the great Downfall (i haven't seen the other two yet). then in 2007 he faltered with his first english language film, the not good movie that was The Invasion (check out my discussion of all four Invasion Of The Body Snatchers versions here).
thankfully he got back up on the horse and in 2009 delivered Five Minutes Of Heaven, a film about truth and reconciliation that in a way is a reconciliation of its own with fans of hirschbiegel who had had to sit through The Invasion - okay, so that's me being a bit over dramatic, but i liked the metaphor so i went with it.
Five Minutes Of Heaven begins in northern ireland in 1975. alistair little is 17 years old and a member of the uvf and he is getting ready to kill his first catholic. the problem is that when he gets to the house to do it, the victims 11-year old younger brother, joe griffin is outside and alistair does it right in front of him.
cut to 33 years later and both boys (now grown men) are being driven separately to a house where a television show has promoted and arranged for the two men to meet for the first time since that night. the crew is there and everyone is ready to film the meeting and that first handshake leading to truth and reconciliation.
in the ensuing years since the incident, little did serve 12 years in prison and since then has traveled a lot, had many speaking engagements, has been involved in helping other reconciliations and has become a bit of a celebrity. the way his driver and the tv crew all talk to him with almost reverence is a little eerie.
on the other hand, griffin has never got over it. his mother basically blamed him for what had happened - saying that he didn't do anything to stop it - and never forgave him. he has lived for 33 years with the image of what happened and the guilt and anger from his own mother weighing on him. while the tv crew and cameras are there to capture the truth and reconciliation, joe griffin wants revenge.
both neeson and nesbitt give strong performances and guy hibbert's script is allowed to shine as herschbiegel takes a very simple approach to the story telling. the film almost feels like a play as it plays out in but a few locations - thus putting the dialogue and the performances front and centre.
although things don't go as smoothly in the film, after having watched Five Minutes In Heaven i would be more than willing to meet director oliver hirschbiegle in person and shake his hand and reconcile with him and forgive him for the pain he caused me - and every other theatre goer - that had to sit through The Invasion.