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Five Minutes of Heaven (2009) by Guy Hibbert BBC iPlayer. Sommers Town (2008) by Shane Meadows SBO

As with everyone that exists in this world of ours, there are certain things that don’t bear contemplation if you wish to retain your sanity.

Excepting personal issues for me these things include Hillsborough and the war in Northern Ireland.

Having been an observer of the war and its impact on those around me, I perversely find the unpackaging of those events via art a very necessary conduit towards understanding the processes that led to deaths of over 3,000 people and the fracturing of Society that has produced such a dysfunctional set up in the North.

Jimmy McGovern’s “Sunday” and Steve McQueen’s recent tour de force “Hunger” are invaluable contributions reflecting on what happened. Both are fact rooted but deeply existential and never lose sight of the human element.

Guy Hibbert’s “Omagh” was in a similar vein, but with “Five Minutes of Heaven” he takes a different tack via a fictional “What if…” type scenario.

James Nesbitt is absolutely outstanding as the brother of a Catholic man gunned down in cold blood by the UVF during one of the interminable tit for tat spirals that dogged Ulster throughout the war.

He is asked to take part in a documentary about the impact of the war where he will meet his brothers Loyalist assassin, played with stunning detached coolness, and ultimately raw hurt by Liam Neeson.

The casting is a masterstroke as each man is actually from the opposite community, thus it carries even more conviction as they cross Society and find that the suffering process is the same, just with a different narrative.

The anguish of the two men is quite something to behold, and it raises for me that the single most difficult process we have to endure as humans is finding true forgiveness and acknowledging this.

I look at the set up in the North and my mind is boggled. McGuiness and Robinson. How can that be?

My cynical mind then tells me it’s all about power for these boys. That’s all they ever wanted. Power and above all recognition that they are players. Somebodys.

But what about those who were brain washed and manipulated? Declan Moen springs to mind. What’s going on for him? Do I give a shit? Well obviously I do because I wouldn’t be writing about him otherwise.

I imagine him in the Neeson role. What would he be after? Pity? Don’t worry about it son, it wasn’t your fault? I will never know but it doesn’t stop me wondering.

Hibbert challenges us to let go of the past, not necessarily with forgiveness in tow, but moving on and living life in the here and now.

Difficult, but a necessary process in all conflict zones and Hibbert has produced a gem of a piece with a good back story and riveting narrative complete with action sequences to go with the more reflective material.

Sommers Town is an uplifting little film from Shane Meadows and an interestingly low key return in the wake of the phenomenal This is England.

Shot in black and white with a runtime of just 75 minutes, we see teen runaway Tomo (Thomas Turgoose) form an unlikely friendship with the son of a Polish migrant worker and a French café waitress in the shadow of Kings Cross/ St. Pancras Stations.

This is as far from Five Minutes… as you can go in filmmaking as the characters are so engagingly niave and un street wise, and it’s great to see the innocence of child hood portrayed like this in our age of cynicism and the painting of teens as sex mad, drug addled and non spiritual consumers.


About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.


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