The Journey, Director – Nick Hamm


This is the best film I have seen so far and likely the best for the rest of the week. It is a dramatic recreation of an encounter between Ian Paisley played by Timothy Spall and Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein played by Colm Meaney. The encounter happens during the 2007 meeting that brought The Troubles in Northern Ireland to the end with a dramatic peace treaty between Catholics and Protestants. The two men literally hated one another and had both been committed to the struggle for nearly two decades. The director is Irish as is Meaney and they have a great deal invested in the story. The film focusses on the two men who are compelled to travel together in a van on the way to the airport. The meeting or situation has been set up by British and Irish politicians who had a great deal invested in having a peace accord completed. The situation is entirely fictional but it is not entirely unimaginable. It was not uncommon for representatives of the two sides to travel together to discourage assassination attempts by agents of either side. No one would attack the plane or train for fear of killing their own people. Also, after the treaty was signed, these two men became close friends from being sworn enemies. They came to be called the Chuckle Brothers for their obvious friendship and good humour. How this could have happened is imagined by the director and the writers and recreated brilliantly by these two gifted actors. The film is funny, moving, and carries an important message. The Troubles are complex and deeply emotional. A violent time that many cannot forgive or forget. The film has been criticized by some for over simplifying the situation and making light of a serious period in history or trivializing it. This is unfair and I think is done from the perspective of those who will never be satisfied with any attempt to describe the time or the issues. We had the virtue of a Q and A with the Director and Colm Meaney. While focussing on the Irish situation and this significant time in history they told us that the film is really about the need for politicians and us all to find our way to compromise as these two enemies were able to do. We need to understand each other as persons and reach for solutions rather than stay rooted in our own perspectives and ideologies. They see quite rightly that the inability to do this in our current times lies at the root of the failure of our democracies. I think the film is brilliant, well written with a critical message and beautifully acted. It was two hours long but I did not notice the time nor did I want it to end. I found the characters entirely absorbing. Try to see this film when it is released.