The Journey Movie Review

Greetings again from the darkness. Only the rarest fiction can match the depth and intensity of important historical moments. A list of these moments would certainly include the Agreement of St. Andrews of 2006, which ended 40 years of fierce civil war between the Northern Irish Unionists and Republican factions. Director Nick Hamm and writer Colin Bateman work together to bring us a speculative dramatization of the conversation that could have led to the contract.

Timothy Spall plays the role of Reverend Ian Paisley, head of the Unionists and anti-Catholic opposite minister. Colm Meaney plays Martin McGuinness, the former IRA rebel leader (“supposedly,” he says) who leads the Irish Republicans (Sinn Fein). These two extremists were at war for most of their lives but had never met until circumstances brought them together for negotiations.

His view of the film is likely to be determined by the level of need for historical accuracy and any personal connection with the long-term war in Northern Ireland. One of these qualities is likely to mock you over the verbal action in the back seat and the tricks of the plot that allow the two mortal enemies to slowly break through ideological barriers. On the other hand, it can be considered as a poorly tuned movie buddy with an intellectual one-upmanship game with political and historical relevance.

Anyway, the actors of the duel are a pleasure to watch. Mr. Spall certainly has the most dramatic role, and he revels in Paisley’s buttoned-up judgment – a man loyal enough to attend his 50th wedding anniversary and devoted enough to his faith that his last visit to a movie theater was in 1973 when he led the opposition against the exorcist. In contrast, Mr. Meaney McGuinness plays both determined to find common ground and worn down by years of struggles and lack of progress.

Toby Stephens plays Prime Minister Tony Blair, while Freddie Highmore is the young driver tasked to secretly turn on the conversation between the two rivals. He receives instructions through his auricle from an MI5 director, played by John Hurt, in one of his last film appearances. Unfortunately, this little “storytelling” seemed condescending to this viewer, who certainly could have done without this elementary advice. Nevertheless, Mr. Hurt’s view of the film is always welcome.

The infusion of humor is almost nonstop. There’s a comical exchange about Samuel L. Jackson, a joke about the Titanic, and a Paisley ranta at a gas station on a rejected credit card that would easily fit most Hollywood buddy movies. However, these elements undermine one of the first on-screen interviews that we see when a citizen declares that boom that explodes as they walk down the street is “part of life”. “You can almost taste the hatred” is a great replica, but unfortunately does not fit the scenario of what we experience on the screen. The two men revisit some important events, such as the Bloody Sunday of 1972, and it is these moments that remind us how important this new agreement was for the country. It is understandable (and relevant today) how 40 years of hate can become a lifestyle and difficult to end, and it also shows us how much real communication can go to find common ground between people even the brothers giggle.

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