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Five Minutes of Heaven (DVD Review)

21 Mar, 2010 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Prebook 3/22/10; Street 4/27/10
Box Office $0.016 million
$19.98 DVD, $29.98 Blu-ray
Not rated.
Stars Liam Neeson, James Nesbitt, Anamaria Marinca.

What would you do if you could meet the killer of a loved one — 30 years after the fact?

That’s the scenario presented to Joe Griffen, who as an 11-year old witnessed the shooting of his 19-year-old brother in his home by 17-year-old Irish Protestant Alistair Little at the height of the 1970s civil war in Northern Ireland.

The shooting becomes the subject of a fictional live television talk show about reconciliation.

Five Minutes of Heaven, helmed by German director Oliver Hirschbiegel (Oscar nominated Downfall), takes the real-life events and cleverly juxtaposes the emotional fallout both men endured leading up to this reality-TV rendezvous.

Little (ever stoic Liam Neeson), who spent 12 years in jail for the killing, long ago came to the realization that the few moments of walking tall among his Protestant peers failed to reconcile with the mental misery that followed.

“The years got heavier, nobody tells you that,” says Little, who now spends his time counseling against the senselessness of violence. “Once your man has joined [domestic terrorists], society has lost him,” he adds, in an unveiled commentary about present day Middle East youths caught up in sectarian Jihad.

For Joe (brilliantly played as an adult by James Nesbitt from Bloody Sunday), the three decades since his brother’s killing — for which his mother blamed him to her death — have done little but turn him into a vengeful mess.

To him, meeting Little has little to do with reconciliation, and everything to do with justice.

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