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Five Minutes of Heaven (2009)



Average Rating: 6.6/10
Reviews Counted: 45
Fresh: 34 | Rotten: 11

Oliver Hirschbiegel's dramatic take on "The Troubles" is an actor's showcase -- and Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt are more than up to the challenge.


Average Rating: 6/10
Critic Reviews: 18
Fresh: 12 | Rotten: 6

Oliver Hirschbiegel's dramatic take on "The Troubles" is an actor's showcase -- and Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt are more than up to the challenge.



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Average Rating: 3.2/5
User Ratings: 21,328

My Rating

Movie Info

The idea of reconciliation between two men from opposite sides of a life-and-death struggle is perhaps impossible or even incredibly naïve. Five Minutes of Heaven, a film that tracks the lives of two men from the same town but different sides of the Irish political divide, is unlike any other on this subject. One man, Alistair, is a killer; the other, Joe, is the brother of the man he killed. One feels he dare not ask for forgiveness; the other feels incapable of giving it. And so the scene is



Guy Hibbert

Apr 27, 2010

IFC Films

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All Critics (45) | Top Critics (18) | Fresh (34) | Rotten (11) | DVD (1)

A director whose breakthrough was the story of a madman's last stand has exceeded that feat with the story of an angry man's next step.

November 5, 2009 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Two marvelous performances from two Irish actors turn Oliver Hirschbiegel's Five Minutes of Heaven into a tour de force.

October 15, 2009 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The movie might have been more tense had it been a little more quiet. Neeson and Nesbitt, however, are so good that narrative hiccups never threaten to lose us...

September 9, 2009 Full Review Source: ReelViews
Top Critic IconTop Critic

So many movies set in Northern Ireland are about the Troubles that we might justifiably ask, why another? Five Minutes of Heaven is far from the best of the breed, but it does at least take a new tack.

September 2, 2009 Full Review Source: Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Ultimately, Five Minutes of Heaven is stronger as a whole than its individual parts.

August 28, 2009 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's an original movie idea that feels written for the stage, all the more so since so much of our attention is diverted to admiring how the actors act, in roles with a high degree of technical

August 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Un drama reflexivo y quizás alegórico sobre las heridas que permanecen años después de un conflicto como el de Irlanda del Norte. Sus dos principales actores salen airosos de las quizás inevitables simplificaciones del guión.

March 16, 2011 Full Review Source: Uruguay Total
Uruguay Total

Tense tale of guilt and atonement in Northern Ireland.

December 24, 2010 Full Review Source:

The film deserves credit for not offering any easy answers, but it also fails to ask any interesting questions.

June 22, 2010 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

... about real people shaped by real situations and experiences that echo through their being long after the events are over.

May 2, 2010 Full Review Source:

...intelligent and provocative

May 1, 2010 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Pitch-perfect performances and an incredibly powerful first two acts do a lot to make up for the film's loss of momentum towards the end.

April 14, 2010 Full Review Source: Concrete Playground
Concrete Playground

The economy of the screenplay provides an intense and focused film that ultimately delivers a gentle and controlled payoff

March 13, 2010 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Acclaimed director Oliver Hirschbiegel gives us much more than we expect in a complex and superbly executed film, whose subject matter may be specific but whose themes of humanity are universal

March 13, 2010 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Five Minutes of Heaven is actually 75 minutes worth of buildup to an ending that's much more fizzle than sizzle.

November 24, 2009 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

[T]his difficult, uncomfortable film... deconstructs the notion of what 'evil' is... Subtle and sharp in how it turns over notions of revenge and grief, forgiveness and empathy, compassion and understanding...

November 12, 2009 Full Review Source: Flick Filosopher
Flick Filosopher

Five Minutes of Heaven is an almost-great film that gets points for sticking with its confused and conflicted characters as long as it does.

November 9, 2009 Full Review Source:

Five Minutes of Heaven is a frustrating inconsistent film which provides a vehicle for some truly outstanding acting...

November 6, 2009 Full Review Source: Playback:stl

This talky little drama about two men *not* meeting is exceedingly well-written and very efficiently made, with surprisingly good mood-setters and dramatic deflections

October 2, 2009 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

It's easy to see what attracted Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt (Bloody Sunday) to Prime Suspect veteran Guy Hibbert's screenplay: it's an actor's showcase.

September 24, 2009 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

James Nesbitt is searing in a performance that bubbles both with rage and a tightrope type of wit.

September 16, 2009 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews
Reeling Reviews

full review at Movies for the Masses

September 11, 2009 Full Review Source: Movies for the Masses
Movies for the Masses

A tense, sad reminder that there's no more persistent attacker than the past.

September 10, 2009 Full Review Source:

Audience Reviews for Five Minutes of Heaven

An intensely dramatic and visceral thriller with a terrific script, masterful direction and powerhouse performances with it's two leads. James Nesbitt and Liam Nesson are superb. Neeson carries the pain and acceptance of his characters actions. Nesbitt is a revelation, one of his finest and most riveting performances. A true tour de force. It feels as it was written for the stage and unfolds nicely with tension and surprise. A breathlessly original piece of work.
July 8, 2014

Super Reviewer

I originally thought that this was going to be just another one of those Northern Ireland in religious turmoil movies....but it wasn't. The concept of this movie dealing with the after effects of the senseless killings that went on is really original. I found this movie very interesting. Liam Neeson is wonderful in it, as usual, which really was a plus.
October 14, 2010

Super Reviewer

"To face the future, they must face the past."

The story of former UVF member Alistair Little. Twenty-five years after Little killed Joe Griffen's brother, the media arrange an auspicious meeting between the two.

Fact based fictional account about the meeting of two men, one who killed the brother of the other as part of the sectarian violence in Northern Ireland. The meeting, arranged by a television network, is suppose to illustrate how people are coming together, however for the two men the event is something else. Where it goes and how it goes is not what you expect, it wasn't what I expected. Liam Neeson and James Nesbitt as the two men are excellent. Neeson as the shooter looking for absolution, but never saying it, is a quiet tower of seeming strength while underneath he's bubbling with uncertainty.Nesbitt is all nervous twitches and ticks. He's very funny in his refusal to deal with the man who he saw killed his brother. He is haunted by the need to take revenge even though he wants never to have to do so. I thought his character and performance were amusing and wrong for a portion of the film until I suddenly understood it was right on target and perfectly done. This is a unique and very real look at how we deal with the wrongs we have done and had done to ourselves. By the time the film had ended I found myself moved several times, probably more so in that the film doesn't punctuate each moment with swelling music or dramatic flourishes. This is a film where the small moments move you, something as simple as a smile makes you weepy. I recommend this film highly. Its not the best film ever made but it neatly gets its point across in such away that you are forced to reflect and perhaps change.
June 1, 2010
Lorenzo von Matterhorn

Super Reviewer

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