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Double: In The Name Of The Father/The Boxer [DVD]
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Double bill featuring two movies from director Jim Sheridan and actor Daniel Day-Lewis. In 'The Boxer' (1997), ex-IRA member and former boxing champion Danny Flynn (Day-Lewis) comes out of prison after 14 years and returns to his native Belfast. He falls in with his old coach, Ike (Ken Stott), and the pair open a gym together. Danny meets his old flame, Maggie (Emily Watson), and hopes to rekindle their affair until he discovers that while he was inside she married his best friend, also an IRA member and now serving time himself. As Danny and Ike's gym attracts young talent and Danny successfully resurrects his boxing career, pressure from IRA thug Harry, an opponent of the burgeoning peace process, threatens to destroy everything they are working towards. 'In the Name of the Father' (1993) is the true story of a group of Irish men dubbed the Guildford Four, the victims of a miscarriage of justice that saw them convicted of bombing a soldiers' pub in 1974. Day-Lewis plays Belfast wideboy and petty crook, Gerry Conlon, who, along with his father (Pete Postlethwaite) and two friends, is forced into a false confession claiming responsibility for the terrorist attack.
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I love this film not just because of it's own gripping story line of injustice and long suffering, corruption and its historical importance but also because of the very real underlying story of father and son. I know in real life they didn't share a cell but they still shared the bond of that common existence and experience and more importantly of the terrible miscarriage of justice which was brought upon them. One can only imagine the futility and frustration of being in that position and one can only imagine how it must have bonded together two people who perhaps may otherwise have not always seen eye to eye.
Just a real human story which is as emotive and enraging as it is entertaining.
Daniel Day Lewis is great as Gerry Conlon who was a petty thief but no IRA bomber and Pete Postlethwaite is terrific as his father, the tragic figure of Guiseppe Conlon, an honest hard working man who like others were caught up in the affair because they were known to Gerry Conlon. Apparently, some of the scenes in the film never took place such as the Conlon's appearing to spend many years together in the same cell and this could weaken the film's authenticity in the eyes of some people but it does not alter the fact that a miscarriage of justice had certainly occured. Corin Redgrave is very good as the policeman in charge of the investigation who is desperate to put somebody away for the crime and it did not seem to bother him who it was and how it was done. It is a very well staged film, exciting and absorbing and it reinforces how fortunate we are that the situation in Northern Ireland is far more peaceful and that any repeat of such things is now highly unlikely.
After watching the film I could not help wondering not only about how many miscarriages of justice may have occured that we don't know about but also how many terrorists who have a lot of innocent blood on their hands spent so little time behind bars because they were released early as a result of the agreement between the British Government and the paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland. In order to get peace this was necessary but it still leaves a nasty taste in the mouth and I suppose it was the price some of the people living there had to pay to stop the bloodshed.
It was very moving to see him in a prison with his father and the others just because they were irish. Working with a british lawyer, Gerry fights to prove his innocence, clear his father's name and expose the truth behind one of the most shameful legal events in recent history.
As for The Boxer, well it was rather slow in action, and I had watched only half of it.
But it was worth my money.
I won't spoil it anymore but at this price for two good movies, I would recommend it.
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