Five Minutes of Heaven has just been aired on BBC 2 and, after all the pre-broadcast hype, and Sundance Festival accolades, I was expecting something a lot more substantial. The acting, in general, was fine – James Nesbitt’s collection of psychological tics and side-effects aside – but the entire piece felt underwritten. It started reasonably, even if the portrayal of the loyalist killer as a now feted global concilliator seemed, well, odd. Although that did allow Neeson to initially give the character more self-awareness than otherwise might have been the case. The portrayal of the fictional programme-makers was overly cynical and contained more than one plot-hole – wouldn’t a runner who believed that Nesbitt’s character actually intended to kill Neeson’s at the filmed meeting have mentioned it to someone? Sticking a sheathed, seven-inch blade into his trousers might have been a neat device plot-wise, but it was scarcely believable that it could go un-noticed. Neeson himself was under-used overall, perhaps by a desire to focus on the victim, but was excellent. The confrontation, when it came, just about avoided a trite ending. But we got there eventually – It’s good to talk. One potentially critical moment in the drama, when there might have been a question about whether Neeson’s character was crying with relief that Nesbitt’s had moved on or because he had missed an opportunity for his own reconciliation with his past was spoiled because, in the circumstances of the other performances, it just came across as relief. At 1 hour and 25 minutes long it felt like a much more compact short story over-stretched to fill the available space. Truth and reconciliation by numbers. You can watch it for the next seven days via the BBC iPlayer.
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