The Journey: What happens when Irish opposites meet?

Colm Meaney as Martin McGuinness and Timothy Spall as Ian Paisley in Nick Hamm’s THE JOURNEY. Photo by Aidan Monaghan. Courtesy of IFC Films. An IFC Films release.

The Journey tells the story of two Irish politicians who couldn’t be further from each other politically.

Directed by Nick Hamm from a screenplay written by Colin Bateman, The Journey stars Timothy Spall, Colm Meaney, Toby Stephens, Catherine McCormack, Ian McElhinney, with Freddie Highmore and John Hurt.  This is one of Hurt’s final appearances on screen as the actor died this past January.

This is a film that shows us that it is possible to make peace with opposing parties.  That doesn’t mean it’s always going to happen though but it’s what happened when then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair (Stephens) brought together Ian Paisley (Spall) and Martin McGuiness (Meaney) in 2006.  Paisley is a conservative British Loyalist while McGuinness is the public face of the Irish Republican Army and spent his entire life believing that Ireland can be united.

These peace talks go down around the same time that Paisley’s 50th wedding anniversary celebration is taking place.  The only way McGuinness would agree to let Paisley travel is if he goes with him, never mind the fact that the two have never spoken to each other.  The big difference between real life and cinema: the real journey took place on a plane but the filmmakers decided to change it up by placing them in a car instead.

When we meet the two, who would later be known as The Chuckle Brothers, peace doesn’t seem likely.  More like a long shot at best.  Harry Patterson (Hurt) employs Jack the Driver (Highmore) as a security guy more or less to make sure that nothing happens to either McGuinness or Paisley.  On their ride to the airport, the two start to see each other in a different light.  This serves as a huge breakthrough in the hope for peace in Northern Ireland.

As Paisley, Spall is rather menacing but there’s more to him as we get to know the character.  The funniest scene is takes place at the gas station.  After Jack’s credit card is denied, Paisley sees to it that the card goes through.  This film was funnier than I thought would be, which echoes the other comments I heard as I walked out of the theater last week.

Previously selected for the Toronto International Film Festival, Venice Film Festival, and Belfast Film Festival, IFC Films opened the film in the United States with a limited release on June 16, 2017.  It will start playing at Landmark Century Centre Cinemas on Friday, July 7, 2017.


Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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