In the Name of the Father (1993) directed by Jim Sheridan, written by Terry George and Jim Sheridan. Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Pete Postlethwaite and Emma Thompson. This is an autobiographical story adapted from Proved Innocent: The Story of Gerry Conlon of the Guildford Four by Gerry Conlon.
Synopsis: Gerry Conlon (Daniel Day-Lewis) is a young Irish rogue living in Belfast during the 1970s. After a run in with the IRA, he is narrowly saved by his father Giuseppe Conlon (Pete Postlethwaite). Gerry is sent to live in London with his aunt as a result. However, instead he takes this opportunity to explore the city with his friend Paul Hill (John Lynch). One night, there is an explosion at a local pub which kills a number of people and injures many more. After returning to Belfast, Gerry is implicated as being involved in the bombing and is sent to prison along with three others. His father Giuseppe is also sent to prison along with some more of Gerry’s relatives, and in this time father and son have to deal with the harsh realities of a life in prison despite their innocence. Gareth Peirce (Emma Thompson) is the lawyer campaigning for their release.
Movies based on true events are always risky because staying true to the source material is always at the forefront. Gerry Conlon is a massive figure in Irish history, and his story is one of the major miscarriages of justice in the contemporary world. Therefore, I was very curious to see the results. However, I thought this was great.
Daniel Day Lewis gives arguably his best performance, and I was gripped throughout with his portrayal of Gerry Conlon. This movie received seven Academy Award nominations including Best Actor in a Leading Role (Daniel Day-Lewis), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Pete Postlethwaite), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Emma Thompson), Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Picture and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. Therefore, this validates the universal critical acclaim this movie received.
Pete Postlethwaite’s portrayal of Giuseppe Conlon was also great, and his onscreen chemistry with Day-Lewis was very effective. As they spend a large portion of screen-time together, the father/son relationship is extremely convincing. Postlethwaite died in 2011, however, this is a performance he should really be proud of.
Emma Thompson is equally as effective as Gareth Peirce, and she bounces well off Day-Lewis. I have yet to see her in a bad performance.
For me, I can tell a bad movie by the fact it does not provoke any type of emotional response. With this, I found myself becoming very frustrated throughout the story at the harsh treatment of some of these characters. I was emotionally invested all the way through this story.
I recommend this to anybody. Day-Lewis is one of the acting greats of our time, and this movie effectively illustrates this.
By Robert Spence