Five Minutes of Heaven

Five Minutes of Heaven

Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Five Minutes of Heaven is a hypnotic drama about the power of forgiveness and the heavy weight of our pasts using the violent era of the mid 1970s in Northern Ireland as a prism through which to explore its heady themes.  Hirschbiegel, directing from a snappy, knowing script by Guy Hibbert, expertly portrays the gut-wrenching emotions and keeps the film from being a stylistic exercise.  Rather he perfectly captures deep, penetrating moments and encapsulates an era of violence in riveting detail.

Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt play two men talked into meeting for a television program.  Neeson was a young USF member who shot Nesbitt’s brother in cold blood in front of Nesbitt as a young child.   The tension of the film rises and abates expertly throughout.  First, with its introductory scene, we witness the violent incident in a near-perfect build up.  The tension slowly rises again as the meeting between the two men inches forward with unexpected results.  Will Nesbitt kill Neeson?  Is reconciliation possible?

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Albert Nobbs

The passion project is a hit or miss proposition for any actor.  More often than not, the project that an actor spends years trying to get to the screen gets a quiet, lukewarm release and only the briefest of awards buzz before quietly slinking away to DVD to be vaguely remembered years later.  At best, it will be a showcase for the lead actor and little else and there may be a nomination here and there thrown for in for good measure.  Glenn Close has spent the better part of two decades trying to get Albert Nobbs to the screen after playing the part in a stage production in 1982.  She became so involved with the project that she is not only plays the titular Nobbs but she also produced the film, co-wrote the screenplay and wrote an original song for the film.

This type of dedication to the material is very evident in the film directed by Rodrigo Garcia.  Close plays Albert with such meticulous restraint and utter believability, that in some ways it shoots itself in the foot.  She’s too good in the role, if that makes any sense.  The character of Albert Nobbs is a tricky beast in itself.  Set in 19th century Ireland, Nobbs is a woman posing as a man in order to work as a butler in a hotel, dutifully saving up money in order to purchase a tobacco shop.  Close’s performance is appropriate to the overall tone of the film; bloodless, yet passionate in its devotion to a docile character and story.

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