Friday, March 23, 2012

#585. In the Name of the Father (1993)

Directed By: Jim Sheridan

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

Tag line: "Falsely accused. Wrongly imprisoned. He fought for justice to clear his father's name"

Trivia:  Daniel Day-Lewis kept his Northern Irish accent on and off the set for the entire shooting schedule

On the night of October 5, 1974, an IRA bomb exploded without warning in a pub in Guildford, England, killing five people and injuring over 100 more. 

One year later, Gerry Conlon, Paul Hill and several others, including Conlon’s father, Giuseppe, were arrested and imprisoned for that bombing, despite the fact they were completely innocent. 

Director Jim Sheridan’s 1993 award-winning film, In the Name of the Father, stirringly recreates both of these tragedies. 

It's the 1970's, and Belfast is rife with violence. When Gerry Conlon (Daniel Day-Lewis), a young man with a history of stirring up mischief, has a run-in with the IRA, his father, Giuseppe (Peter Postlethwaite), puts him on a boat bound for England to live with relatives until things calm down. 

On the ride over, Gerry runs into old friend Paul Hill (John Lynch), and, instead of moving in with his Aunt Annie (Britta Smith) as planned, Gerry follows Paul to a hippie commune in the heart of London. Yet they are not entirely welcome, and after a falling-out with some of their new flatmates, the two blow off steam by spending an entire night wandering the streets. 

Unfortunately, this happened the same evening as the Guildford pub tragedy.  Unable to provide an alibi for their whereabouts, Gerry and Paul are arrested, along with old friend Paddy Armstrong (Mark Sheppard) and fellow hippie Carole Richardson (Beatie Edney), and charged with the bombing. 

Giuseppe travels to London to hire a lawyer for his son, and is himself picked up by the police, accused of being a co-conspirator. They are found guilty on all counts, at which point father and son are shipped off to the same prison. Having been at odds with each other for so many years, the two must now work together to gain their freedom.  To this end, they hire English lawyer Gareth Pierce (Emma Thompson), who works tirelessly to get their case re-opened.

But as the years drag on, Giuseppe's health deteriorates, and Gerry realizes that, if freedom doesn't come soon, his father will die behind bars for a crime he didn't commit. 

In the Name of the Father is a powerful film, and much of the credit for this must go to Daniel Day-Lewis and Peter Postlethwaite. Though centering on a horrendous miscarriage of justice, the glue holding In the Name of the Father together is the torrid relationship the exists between their two characters. 

Day-Lewis is predictably excellent as the unlucky young Irishman from Belfast. His Gerry gets into a number of scrapes; as the film opens, he’s stealing sheet metal from the rooftops of Belfast. When British troops mistake him for a sniper and open fire, it leads to an all-out riot in the streets. Yet in portraying his character's deficiencies so effectively, Day-Lewis ensures that Gerry's evolution from common punk to human rights advocate will, as a result, be all the more dramatic. Matching him every step of the way is Postlethwaite, whose Giuseppe is a physically weak and feeble man, yet stronger in faith and conviction than his healthy, somewhat troubled son. 

The Guildford Four, as they were called, are now free, but nothing will change the fact that a flawed, corrupt system cost them 15 years of their lives. In the Name of the Father asks us to reflect on this reality. Tough and unflinching, it is a motion picture that will stay with you for days.


Anonymous said...

I love this film. One of Daniel Day-Lewis' best!

DVD Infatuation said...

Thanks for stopping by! And I couldn't agree more: Day-Lweis was incredible in this film.

Thanks again!