FIVE MINUTES OF HEAVEN
A Story of Forgiveness
Release Date: August 21, 2009
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 90 minutes
Distributor: IFC Films
Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel
Producer: Eoin O’Callaghan
Writer: Guy Hibbert
Address Comments To:Jonathan Sehring, President, IFC Films/IFC Entertainment
Joshua Sapan, President/CEO, Rainbow Media Holdings LLC
11 Penn Plaza
New York, NY 10001
Phone: (212) 324-8500
In 1975, 16-year-old Alistair assassinated 19-year-old Jim while Jim’s younger brother, Joe, watched. Cut to present time. A TV documentary company wants to bring Alistair and Joe together for the first time for an on-camera encounter. Alistair served a 12-year sentence for the killing. Now that he’s out, he’s become a public speaker and even leads 12-step groups to talk about hatred and anger management. Joe, however, has continued to harbor bitterness over his brother’s murder. Both men lead troubled lives, and Alistair is plagued by the guilt from the murder.
The moment for the two men to meet face-to-face arrives. Joe is intent on killing Alistair with a hidden dagger. At the last minute, however, Joe panics and leaves the interview without seeing Alistair.
Alistair finally arranges to meet Joe privately, which ends in a bloody fight.
“Five minutes of heaven” refers to the pleasure of revenge that Joe anticipates he will have by killing Alistair. Though he knows it will destroy him and his family, he still wants his five minutes. It also, in a more subtle way, refers to the glory that Alistair received for the murder from his friends. The movie is satisfying in the end, with both men discovering freedom through forgiveness. Despite this, there is no discussion of God or Jesus, or references to prayer or church.
FIVE MINUTES OF HEAVEN is based loosely on two actual men, though they never had a face-to-face reunion. The movie is gripping in the emotion it conveys, but it does not have much of a storyline. Viewers see the torment the men live with, but they never really get to know them much as characters. Even so, the movie’s strongest part is the excellent performances by Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt as the two men who struggle to deal with a fateful moment of their past.
There is much foul language in FIVE MINUTES OF HEAVEN, mostly from the Joe character. The movie’s strong violent content also warrants an extreme caution.
FIVE MINUTES OF HEAVEN is gripping but does not have much of a storyline. Viewers see the torment the men live with, but they never really get to know them much as characters. The performances by Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt as the two men are excellent, however. There is plenty of foul language, mostly from the Joe character. The movie’s strong violence also merits a caution. Finally, though the story involves Protestants and Catholics and forgiveness is the theme of the movie’s premise, there are no positive references to God or Jesus.