James Nesbitt, Liam Neeson
Joe: (thinking to himself) Well, here you are pal…a fully signed up member of the celebrity circuit of life’s victims. Men in love with donkeys, twins stuck together by their bollocks, elephant women who can’t get out of their chairs…and now you…
Joe (Nesbitt) is scheduled to meet face to face with Alistair (Neeson), the man who killed his brother right in front of him over 30 years ago as an act of violence in the Northern Ireland conflict. It’s supposed to be part of a reconciliation program for victims and purveyors of violence, but Joe sees it as a chance to get vengeance.
Joe is damaged. His entire life has been filled with anger and guilt over a murder he witnessed and his own mother blames him for not preventing some how. On top of that, the man who committed the murder only served 12 years in prison, and is now seemingly profiting from it all with a book tour, television appearances, etc.
Now Joe has a chance to meet the man behind the gun. And he wants to kill him. What Joe doesn’t know is that Alistair has been just as haunted by his own act of violence as Joe has. Alistair is also a broken, regretful man who sees Joe’s little 10 year old face staring up at him in shock every day. He’s just as nervous about the meeting as Joe is.
With cameras rolling and a large crew – even a pesky makeup artist – present, the meeting is turned into such a spectacle that Joe isn’t sure he can even go through with it. In one sequence, the camera follows him downstairs as he approaches the door to the room in which Alistair is waiting, but at the last second, the cameraman stumbles, ruining the take. It has to be done again because they “really need that shot”. So, it’s back upstairs for Joe so he can do it all again. After getting a little more makeup applied, of course.
James Nesbitt combines a good comedic edge with a sort of wild-eyed mania while still keeping his character likable and believable. As Alistair, Liam Neeson is somber and distant, but not quite as interesting a character as Nesbitt’s Joe. I was hoping for a little more interesting interaction between the two, rather than where the movie goes with its conclusion, but the lead up was enjoyable.
It’s a short movie, only an hour and a half, and it actually felt like it could have been longer without becoming uninteresting, but they chose to wrap things up rather quickly instead, which I think hurt the movie a little bit. Reconciliation is not an easy process, and I would have liked to have seen a few more scenes of face to face discussion between the two men. As is, it seems to gloss over things to an extent, not allowing a real deep look inside the characters or the violence they’ve both been so affected by.
Some Irish accents can be very hard to understand.
10 – 2 for not delving as deeply into the characters’ issues as possible – 1.3 for the ending being a little too quick and shallow = 6.7