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Colm Meaney, right, & Timothy Spall in The Journey.

Steffan Hill/Globe and Mail Update

2.5 out of 4 stars

Title
The Journey
Written by
Colin Bateman
Directed by
Nick Hamm
Starring
Timothy Spall, Colm Meaney, John Hurt
Genre
Drama
Classification
PG
Country
U.K.
Language
English
Year
2016

It was a "way of life," and a "tit-for-tat" deal. We're talking about the bloody, ruthless guerrilla war of Northern Ireland, often described as the Troubles. Nick Hamm's speculative drama The Journey poses a what-if narrative involving actual peace negotiations between the political opposites Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness in 2006. The film fictionally imagines the two extremely incompatible men trapped in a van together on the long way to an airport during a break in the Scotland-set summit. An unrecognizable Timothy Spall is the elderly Paisley (a stodgy, righteous and formerly fiery British loyalist, devout Protestant minister and Democratic Unionist Party leader). Opposite him is Colm Meaney as the chattier McGuinness (the Sinn Fein head and, "allegedly," former IRA leader). The film is dialogue-heavy, easily imaginable as a two-hander for the stage, but watching the ice-thawing process between the two enemies is less compelling on screen. The bit of MI-5 chicanery behind the whole plot is a tad silly, but the sparring of Spall and Meaney is just worth the 94-minute investment (PG-13). Brad Wheeler

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