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In The Name Of The Father

In The Name Of The Father

By Max Lalanne • November 23rd, 2012
Static Mass Rating: 5/5
IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER (MOVIE)
Universal Pictures

Original release: December 12th, 1993
Running time: 133 minutes

Director: Jim Sheridan
Writers: Jim Sheridan, Terry George, Gerry Conlon

Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis, Emma Thompson, Pete Postlethwaite

In The Name Of The Father

The story of Gerry Conlon, the young Irishman who was accused and jailed by the British government for a violent attack he didn’t commit, is brought to the screen in a harrowing and powerful biopic by Jim Sheridan. It’s interesting to watch as we observe how the filmmakers went about depicting such a controversial time and subject.

In The Name Of The Father doesn’t appeal to both sides though, and it works in a straight-forward sort of way, because you believe this is the only way it could be presented. When we meet Gerry (Daniel Day-Lewis), he’s a disaffected youth stealing scrap metal off the roofs of Belfast homes. He’s not an anarchist rebel siding with the IRA, who are casually hunkered inside houses with explosives and weapons. Nor is he sympathetic to the high-wired British soldiers prowling the streets, only too happy to find and shoot anyone who looks suspicious.

This simmering atmosphere of constant tension all too often erupts into full-blown riots and street battles. Such is the case when the soldiers spot Gerry on the roof and mistake him for an IRA sniper and he narrowly escapes. All his thieving has seriously chagrined his family and ticked off the real IRA rebels, so to protect him, his father Giuseppe (Pete Postlethwaite) sends him off to London to stay with his Aunt Annie and find a real job.

The mess that ensues however couldn’t have been predicted by anyone at all. A few days after the British government pass the Prevention of Terrorism Act, which allows the police to hold suspected terrorists for up to seven days without charging them – a pub blows up, and the wandering and careless Gerry is falsely arrested, along with his friends and, soon, his family.This seems all rather formulaic in writing – after being secretly tortured and intimidated by the police, he breaks down and confesses lies. . Gerry then goes to court, the judge locks him up for life and a lawyer tries to free him. Yet as we watch In The Name Of The Father, we feel fury as it plays out.
In The Name Of The Father

Day-Lewis does much to help In The Name Of The Father. The whole film swings according to his performance, and by golly it’s a good and commanding one, especially as he shows us how life as an inmate in a high-security prison changes someone like Gerry. He goes from being a dithering loafer who uses drugs with his newfound hippie friends, to a hopeless lifer tiptoeing on the edge of madness, and finally to a somewhat educated, calm and replenished man. Day-Lewis makes us feel his character.

Postlethwaite’s portrayal of his Gerry’s father also brings something special to the film. His uneven relationship with his son shows compassionate and unreserved love, even when they’re on grim non-speaking terms as they languish in prison together, often in the same cell. Their relationship is the real gem in the heart of this film.

Sheridan goes for the hard stuff with this film and there’s a lot of direct and obvious anger aimed at the British judicial system and the police officers who arrested anyone on the slightest suspicion. He keeps this going until the last credits roll. Or, at least, until our previously non-existing Irish pride and political fervour shows up in full steam, unwilling to be abated and fuelled in part by the dynamic songs contributed to the soundtrack by the likes of Bono and Sinead O’Connor.

Max Lalanne

Max Lalanne

Max Lalanne is an award-winning student filmmaker - whose debut short won a prestigious award at the Houston Intl. Film Festival when he was just 13. The bi-lingual film blogger and critic also has his own movie website, SmellofPopcorn.com.

He loves almost all kinds of cinema and watches a diverse array of movies on a regular basis, some of his favourites include Dr. Strangelove, Fight Club, Lord of the Rings, Aliens, and Finding Nemo. You can follow Max on Twitter @maxlalanne.

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