Review: Five Minutes of Heaven

This is my first time updating by email, so let’s see if this works.

Sometimes when I don’t have anything to post about or I find it relating to a book I’ve read or am reading, I’ll write a movie review. This might fall more under the former category, but not exactly.

One of the books on my shelf that I only read in portion is called Unarmed Heroes. It’s a set of stories where nonviolence has worked to enact change in a situation where it was previously thought only violence could resolve the issue. This story in particular had to do with a woman whose father was killed in the conflict that occurred in Northern Ireland about 40 years ago. A man, fighting for a cause he thought as just, bombed her father’s place of work (if I’m not mistaken, he was the target). Some thirty years later, the two are part of a reconcilliation program where killers meet the family members of their marks. Though they’re not exactly best friends, the program brought the woman and the man to points of forgiveness and repentance, respectively.

Five Minutes In Heaven follows a similar story, only with two grown men. Liam Neeson plays a man who, when he was seventeen, shot a Catholic who had threatened one of his Protestant friends, but moreso for fame and respect than actual justice. The Catholic’s younger brother (played by James Nesbitt) witnessed the whole event, and experienced deep emotional scarring as a result, wanting to kill the man who killed his brother.

Thirty years later, the two men are part of a reconciliaton program as described above, and the brother wants to kill the man who killed his brother. The meeting never goes through, as the man has a nervous breakdown before he can meet Liam Neeson’s character. The two do eventually meet, though not on such peaceful grounds.

Though the movie is far from groundbreaking, the acting is pretty great, and I would expect nothing less from the likes of Liam Neeson. It’s not a new morality portrayed here; the idea of forgiveness even for those who have committed great crimes, and laying vengeance aside that we may live without the shackles of a heavy grudge around us. I don’t fully understand what was going on in Northern Ireland during that time, but the fact that reconciliation is happening in the way it is brings me hope for humanity.

One other thing I wanted to touch on was something Neeson’s character said. When he was a boy, he didn’t haven anyone telling him violence was wrong, that killing a Catholic was a horrible thing to do. He couldn’t see the fight from his enemy’s side, only his own. He needed someone to speak into his life about his enemy, how human they were, and why they deserved to live just as much as he did, but he didn’t have that. He made the comment that that’s what these young people in Islam need, someone from their side speaking into their lives to not turn to violence, but they don’t have that. There’s a lot of ins and outs on that front, as there are all wars, but speaking love and forgiveness into the lives of our children is so vital, and I wish we had it more in America.

Anyway, pretty good film. It’s on Netflix if you want to check it out! See you tomorrow!

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