I don’t know if In the Name of the Father will have the same effect on you as it did me as I’m a little vulnerable to stories between fathers and sons right now. But I thought it was brilliant.
The film tells the true story of Gerry Conlon (Daniel Day-Lewis) who as a young man, was wrongfully convicted for the “Guildford bombing”. The bomb was set off in a London pub for the IRA in October of 1974, resulting in an explosion that killed five people while injuring sixty others. A public outcry that demanded those who are responsible be immediately brought to justice placed immense pressure on Scotland Yard.
Gerry became a prime suspect for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. After getting in some trouble with some real IRA members, Gerry’s father Guiseppe (Pete Postlethwaite) sends him to stay with his Aunt in London. Gerry, who marches to his own drum, ends up staying with some mates instead. Unfortunately for Gerry, his mates’ London flat is well known by Scotland Yard as an ideal location for Irish squatters. The flat is raided, and in an attempt to take the heat off of himself one of the squatters points to Gerry who has just returned to Belfast with £700.
The Conlon’s home in Belfast is raided next and Scotland Yard does not buy Gerry’s story of how he stole the money from a prostitute. Gerry is arrested and signs a confession after seven days of torture and interrogation.
Giuseppe goes to England to help his son but ends up getting arrested himself as Scotland Yard covers up its sloppy police work. By December 1974, Gerry, Giuseppe, and two family members are labeled by the media as “The Guildford Four” before being tried and convicted of the Guildford bombing. All four were given a life sentence.
Emma Thompson comes in at around the halfway point as Gareth Peirce, the only lawyer who can smell the rat and is willing to help the Conlon family. As cliched as her inclusion maybe, I couldn’t care too much at that point. I desperately needed someone to come in and help these people out!
“Our case was so insane, that if you made it up, nobody would believe it.”
(Daniel Day-Lewis as Gerry Conlon)
After watching any film based on real-life events, I begin my research to find out how true it is. The movie uses Gerry Conlon’s own book, Proved Innocent as a guide but it does take liberties, like how Peirce is actually a solicitor and not a barrister. So, she never defended Conlon in court. Director Jim Sheridan defended his choices by stating: “I was accused of lying in In the Name of the Father, but the real lie was saying it was a film about the Guildford Four when really it was about a non-violent parent.”
Yeah, he is not wrong. Watching both Gerry and Giuseppe, who despite being wrongfully convicted, can grow behind bars is really inspiring to watch. Pete Postlethwaite gives his best performance here and it is unfortunate how he was never given a role like this again since he passed away in 2011.
Even if you know the end results ahead of time (like some of my UK friends might) or feel it is a little predictable, I was invested in how bad it was going to get for these characters before it got better. Great. Movie. #MarsApproved