by Tony Medley
Runtime 91 minutes.
The battle between
the Protestants and the Catholics in Northern Ireland is as legendary as
it was bloody (known as The Troubles). In 2006 the parties met in
Scotland to once again try to resolve the issues. The leaders were the
Rev. Ian Paisley (Timothy Spall), the closed-minded leader of the
Protestants, and Martin McGuiness (Colm Meany), the leader of the IRA.
They two had never met, but they hated each other.
There was apparently
a tradition in Northern Ireland for politicians from opposing factions
to travel together to prevent assassination attempts. In 2006 Paisley
had to return to Ireland to attend a party celebrating his 50th
wedding anniversary. McGuiness apparently traveled with him.
They flew together,
but nobody knows what happened. What did happen that they know of is
that The Troubles were settled. Director Tim Hamm and writer Colin
Bateman decided to move the location from the confined, claustrophobic
airplane to an automobile. So they had Paisley and McGinnis ride
together in a limousine to an airport that was over an hour away.
This movie is an
imagination of the conversation that might have taken place between
these two antagonists who hated one another, and it is a sparkling
I don’t think there
is any actor extant who can portray a hateful, unlikable person as well
Spall. I thought he deserved an Oscar nomination last year for his
performance in Denial, and I would give him another for this
performance. He is so condescendingly arrogant that one cannot help but
moviegoers might think that the film has a lot of green screen and CGI
in it for the car trip, in fact the movie was actually filmed in a
moving car as shown on screen.
There have been lots
of films about two men who oppose one another. The one that stands out
for me is Becket, which brought together the monumental battle of
wills between King Henry II, played by Peter O’Toole (“Won’t anybody rid
me of this troublesome prince?”), and Thomas a Becket, played by Richard
Spall and Meany need
not take a backseat to O’Toole and Burton and their performances here.
Working with a smart, intelligent script they fence with one another
throughout the movie in a way that is entirely believable.
This does what
movies should do; it educates and entertains at the same time.