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Review: Five Minutes of Heaven

Or, rather, 90 minutes of tension
By BRETT MICHEL  |  September 23, 2009
3.0 3.0 Stars


Forget the title of Oliver (Downfall) Hirschbiegel's film — that's 90 minutes of tension up there on screen. It's all a bit fragmented and stagy — which is perhaps unavoidable, since the story begins with a murder in Northern Ireland in 1975 and cuts to a present-day meeting between the perpetrator and the brother of the victim in a reconciliation that's shown on British television.

But it's easy to see what attracted Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt (Bloody Sunday) to Prime Suspect veteran Guy Hibbert's screenplay: it's an actor's showcase. The 1975 scenes offer the bloody violence of a hit methodically carried out by Alistair Little (Mark Davison), the 16-year-old leader of a UVF cell, but the psychological scars of the grown Alistair (Neeson) and Joe Griffen (Nesbitt), who was just 11 when his brother was gunned down before his eyes, make the most lacerating impact. It's all underscored by David Holmes's pulsating music.

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