In the Name of the Father 1.0 stars

An open-and-shut case of miscarriage of justice, based on fact. (It might better be named In High Dudgeon.) A petty thief from Northern Ireland just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time: Guildford, England, 1974, when a no-warning IRA bomb goes off in a crowded pub, killing five. Because we've been stuck to the man like glue, we know full well he had nothing to do with it, and we're expected to resent the police having any opinion on the matter. The thief (Daniel Day-Lewis, life-sized), along with friends and family, is hastily railroaded into prison, where he passes fifteen years before his new lawyer (Emma Thompson, emanating empathy) comes into a new piece of evidence through the greatest stroke of luck, or laziest stroke of plotting, in the annals of courtroom drama. The re-creation of the period in hairstyles, costumes, hippie commune (motto: "No property, no law, just love"), etc., is well done. And the relationship between shiftless son and hard-toiling father (Pete Postlethwaite) has a high and palpable level of tension. At least it starts out that way. The development of it into something closer and warmer is less interesting in itself than in the mere fact that the two of them are allowed to share the same prison cell. Evidently the pitiless British justice system has a soft spot after all. Directed by Jim Sheridan. 1993.

Duncan Shepherd

This movie is not currently in theaters.


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