Tuesday, 6 June 2017

In The Name of the Father (1993)

What is a good movie? The reason I ask is that is because I believe that the phrase "good movie" has been diluted so much over the years. People nowadays will tell you that any Marvel movie is good, or that The Fast and The Furious 7 was good. Sure these movies pack a punch with enough one-liners, gags, and over the top CGI and explosions to satisfy everyone, but since when has the standard been set so low? A lot of people just don't appreciate movies anymore, it seems to me that TV shows nowadays are doing what movies did back in the day. TV shows right now are excellent, they're thought provoking, witty, filled with social commentary, and the actors deliver fantastic performances. That being said, there are a lot of brilliant movies being released nowadays, there's no denying that, but I just feel like they're being overlooked by moviegoers for more "enjoyable" films.

After watching A Time to Kill for the millionth time on TV, a fire inside me was re-ignited, all of a sudden I found myself wanting to watch every courtroom drama movie I could get my hands on. Courtroom drama, a genre that I dismissed for a long time on the basis of it being "boring", was suddenly my biggest interest. See I go through phases when it comes to watching movies and I gotta say that I'm enjoying this phase very much.


In The Name of the Father was a biographical film released in 1993 starring Daniel Day-Lewis. Right off the bat, it's Daniel Day-Lewis, so you know that you're gonna be in for a treat. A Northern Irish man and his son are wrongfully imprisoned for a bombing that they had nothing to do with, the movie follows their struggle for freedom, justice, and life with each other in prison.

How could anyone argue with a movie that starts off with a riot and Voodoo Child playing in the background? That has to be one of the best openings I've seen in a movie, Irish people throwing bricks at security forces, who could beat that? After getting in trouble with the IRA, Gerry moves to London and seeks "Free love and dope". A stroke of luck hits him and we winds up robbing a hooker's apartment and returns to Belfast to show off his newfound "wealth", but all hell breaks loose when the police raid his house and accuse him of bombing a pub in Guildford.

First time watching the movie I really didn't know what to expect, I was ready to chalk it down as just another courtroom drama, but as I got into it I realized that it is much much deeper than that. The character development is insane, for a movie that's just over two hours long I got to see Gerry Conlon (Day-Lewis) grow from a free-spirited young adult to a mature and passionate man in such detail, with certain events occurring throughout the film that makes him grow ever so slightly until he becomes a totally different person from the one see in the beginning of the film. Character development isn't an easy thing in movies, as opposed to TV shows, but it sure as hell is satisfying when movies get it right. The relationship between father and son is a concept that's is definitely highlighted, Gerry and his father Giuseppe (Pete Postlethwait) went through so much as father and son in terms of their relationship and the discrimination they faced with the public. Although we can tell that Gerry is very critical of his father at first, he never stopped loving him, and eventually, we see that Gerry more or less becomes the same person his dad was.

Daniel Day-Lewis carried this film on his shoulders so effortlessly and with such passion. He lost over 50 pounds for the role and maintained his Northern Irish accent on and off set, plus he lived in a jail cell for 3 days. I can't really tell if his accent was good or not because I'm not Irish but I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that he did a good job. He's such a skilled actor that really gets into the very bones of every character he's portraying and delivers a stellar performance every time. Emma Thompson and Pete Postlethwait delivered powerful performances as Gareth Peirce and Giuseppe Conlon respectively. Although Emma Thompson's character didn't really make an appearance until the middle to the end of the film, she still managed to make an impact. But what really made this movie stand out was the chemistry between all the actors, especially Day-Lewis and Postlethwait.

In the Name of the Father did a fantastic job conveying to its audience the oppressive nature of the real-life case of the Guildford Four and the Maguire Seven. The interrogation/confession scenes alone were graphic and detailed enough that it made me uncomfortable at times. It really shows the audience how the people of Northern Ireland were oppressed and discriminated against. It also details how corrupt and deceptive the police were at the time, going to great lengths to hide evidence and torture them into signing a confession just because they were under enormous public pressure to apprehend the bombers.

To conclude, In the Name of the Father is a heartfelt portrayal of real life people in their quest for love, peace, and freedom. A classic worthy of watching a thousand times over, emotional, witty, and thought-provoking; and it has a brilliant soundtrack (Yah man!). It ticks all the right boxes and the cast and crew did an outstanding job in bringing this biography to life. In a world where people just want a movie "fix", In the Name of the Father is worthy of calling a shining beacon of hope to re-ignite the younger generation's interest in real, undiluted cinema. I've thoroughly enjoyed this movie from beginning to end and I doubt that anyone will have anything bad to say about it because it's just that good. I would advise you to turn on the subtitles because of the thick Northern Irish accents, it can be a bit hard to understand what they're saying at times, but other than that, go and enjoy it.

The real life Giuseppe and Gerry Conlon
"I'm a free man and I'm going out the front door"

Ahmed J. Almatrook