The Journey

Timothy Spall and Colm Meaney star in this drama chronicling the events preceding the 2006 St. Andrews Agreement, which brought peace to Northern Ireland.

"Today's headlines can make it tough to believe in the possibility of peace between warring factions. Yet this is just what happened only 10 years ago, when the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin (the political party of the Irish Republican Army) signed the St. Andrews Agreement, bringing peace to Northern Ireland after nearly 40 years of violence. The Journey dramatises the negotiations that led to the Agreement — negotiations that transpired not in some hallowed hall but, rather, in a minivan traversing the Scottish countryside.

"Protestant minister and DUP leader Ian Paisley (Spall) and Sinn Féin MP Martin McGuinness (Meaney) are arch-enemies, each deeply involved in the Troubles, which have long plagued Northern Ireland. They've both agreed to participate in the British-organized talks in St. Andrews, Scotland, but many doubt their capacity to bury the hatchet. Paisley has to break from the talks to attend his golden wedding anniversary, and when rain forces him to fly out of Edinburgh instead of a nearby airport, McGuinness comes along for the ride. What neither knows is that their seemingly innocent driver (Freddie Highmore) is a British agent, the van is bugged, and a very nervous Tony Blair (Toby Stephens) is watching in desperate hope that these old antagonists can settle the matter during the afternoon detour." (Toronto International Film Festival)

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Trailers

Directed by

  • Nick Hamm('The Hole', 'Godsend', 'The Very Thought of You')

Written by

Drama

94mins

Rating: M Offensive language

UK

Aaron-Yap2

Aaron Yap

flicks

The Journey is basically the feature-length version of the rabbi-priest-atheist weed-smoking video that was doing the viral rounds a few months ago. It shares with that clip a not-unwelcome idealistic notion that individuals with wildly clashing beliefs are able to find common ground through a bit of good ol’ civil discourse.

Here, Nick Hamm’s likeably droll, if all-too-pat and unchallenging, film speculates how two real-life enemies, Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley (Timothy Spall) and Sinn Féin politician/former IRA chief of staff Martin McGuinness, came to forge a peace agreement that ended the Troubles in Northern Ireland. More amusingly, and adding a shade of poignancy to the proceedings, is the knowledge that both also enjoyed a friendship so strong the media dubbed them “the Chuckle Brothers”.

Hamm and writer Colin Bateman contrive the shit out of the scenario, which begins at a historic summit in Fife, Scotland, then finds the pair riding in the backseat of a car to Belfast where Paisley’s 50th wedding anniversary is about to start. In addition, there’s a young MI5 agent (Freddie Highmore) who’s under stealthy direction by his boss Harry Paterson (John Hurt) to play the affable, ice-breaking chauffeur.

The ensuing exchange is unsubtly written but engagingly varied: marriages, Samuel L. Jackson, The Exorcist and Bloody Sunday are all somehow covered, inching their initial ribbing and heated bickering toward a moment of empathy and understanding. Spall’s interpretation of Paisley is perhaps too over-the-top, especially with the distracting prosthetic buckteeth, to convince. But The Journey still makes for a fine buddy-road movie, revelling in the delight of watching slivers of humanity seep through the blood-thick hatred of a long-raging war.

Variety (USA)

press

It's a movie that follows every trope in the book, and does so with pleasing fireworks and finesse.

The Guardian (UK)

press

This film feels the need to be fair, to be balanced. That is understandable. But it is tiptoeing on eggshells of its own making.

The Telegraph (UK)

press

The Journey is an apocryphal drama about the Northern Irish peace process, and makes its subject look like a methodical tootle around the block by comparison.

Huffington Post

press

he Journey is an entertaining movie if more like fiction as fact than fact as fiction. Hamm insists there is a basis of truth in the story and it is relatively easy to believe him.

Screen International

press

Although it breaks no new ground, there's heart, humour, charm and even a little healthy mischief...

Los Angeles Times

press

While Hamm and Bateman have the right idea overall, their love of contrivance too often gives "The Journey" the sense of being reverse-engineered ...

New York Times

press

Though the script tilts to the didactic, the performances are absolutely delicious, with Mr. Meaney droll and understated and Mr. Spall fiery and derisive, yet not above a joke.

Stuff.co.nz (James Croot)

press

A very entertaining, enjoyable and engrossing journey.