The true story of Gerry Conlon, whom was falsely imprisoned after he was coerced into signing an untrue confession admitting guilt to an IRA bombing.
This movie had been on my ‘to-watch’ list for some time, but just this last week John Oliver made a reference to it on ‘Last Week Tonight,’ and as it was streaming on HBO I decided to give it a go.
It’s a pretty good flick.
“Well, I think they ought to take the word compassion out of the English dictionary.”
After Gerry Conlon (Daniel-Day Lewis, “Phantom Thread”) is falsely arrested and coerced into a confession admitting that he was responsible for an IRA bombing, he along with several members of his family are sent to prison, including his father Giuseppe (Pete Postlethwaite, “The Usual Suspects”). For years, they battle the courts verdict, trying to clear their names with the help of British lawyer Gareth Peirce (Emma Thompson, “Howards End”).
As I sat down to write this review, I was surprised to find this movie was nominated for seven Oscars (including Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Actor (Day-Lewis) Supporting Actor (Postlethwaite), Supporting Actress (Thompson), and Editing). Sure, this is a good movie, but seven Oscar nominations are a bit excessive. It lost out on all of its nominations; many of them went to “Schindler’s List” (rightfully so- “Schindler’s List” is a masterpiece, while this is simply a movie worth watching).
As a whole I enjoyed this film. It tells a true story, and well. The acting is all top notch, and the themes about standing up to injustice are great. Really, I think my biggest problem with this film is that I felt as if it was leading me by the hand emotionally. Every scene where something emotional happens, the music swells and the performances get more dramatic; there are impassioned monologues and tearful revelations… it just feels like everyone is trying so freaking hard to get me to care about everything. If they hadn’t played up the overly dramatic parts of this movie I probably would’ve enjoyed it a bit more. I also have to say that the first forty minutes of this movie seemed sort of directionless. Up until the inciting incident (the bombing and subsequent arrest), Gerry just wanders around Belfast and then London, getting drunk with his friends and squandering his father’s money. Having not known too much about the film, I honestly wondered where this story was going until Gerry is arrested.
Daniel Day-Lewis is remarkable as ever. He just disappears into Gerry Conlon in the way only Daniel Day can do. If you end up watching this, pay particular attention to the way he carries himself before and after the interrogation scenes. Some of the subtler moments of acting come from his performance, and he’s probably the best reason to watch this movie. Postlethwaite is really good in this movie too- it kind of bummed me out to learn he was only ever nominated for this movie. He was an underrated actor.
I think the biggest reason to watch this movie is just for the story it tells. It’s important for us to face these injustices in our judicial systems, because we need to acknowledge those systems are, at their core, broken. People will inherently try to cover their own butts, and yes, that’s true of even cops. In times of terrorism there will always be fear, but its important to remember that the ones first arrested might not be the ones responsible. Mob mentality only breeds more chaos.
Overall, this is pretty good. A touch slow and dramatic at parts, but it’s well worth your time.
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