Five Minutes of Heaven

  • Directors: Oliver Hirschbiegel
  • Producers: Eoin O Callaghan, Stephen Wright
  • Writers: Guy Hibbert
  • Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller
  • Actors: Liam Neeson, James Nesbitt, Anamaria Marinca

Lurgan Northern Ireland, 1975. A low level civil war has been underway, with the Irish Republican Army targeting British loyalists and the loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force exacting revenge on Catholics they claim are militant republicans. Alistair Little, 16 is the leader of a UVF cell, eager to be blooded. He and his gang are given the go ahead to kill a young Catholic man, James Griffin, as a reprisal and a warning to others. When the hit is carried out, Joe Griffin – the 11-year old little brother of the target – watches in horror his brother is shot in the head. Thirty years later Joe Griffin and Alistair are to meet, on camera, with a view to reconciliation. Alistair has served his sentence, and peace may have been agreed to in N. Ireland, but Joe Griffin is not coming on the program for a handshake. Unbeknownst to the production team, he intends to stick a knife in his brother’s killer – live and on the air.

The first act depicts a reconstruction of the murder of 19-year-old Jim Griffin by 17-year-old Alistair Little (Mark Davison) on 29 October 1975. Jim’s 11-year-old brother Joe witnesses the killing. Little goes to prison for 12 years.

Little is speaking metaphorically, and means for Griffin to kill Little off in his head, in so doing they can both move on. Griffin very shakily lights up a cigarette as Little pulls himself up against a wall and limps down the road. The following day, Griffin attends a group sharing. He shares to the group that he wants to be a good father for his daughters and he cries. In the end, he calls Little to tell him, “We’re finished.”

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