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?