The Journey

What do you get when you put an IRA figure and a Protestant cleric in the car for a long ride to a peace conference?

Not to be be confused with 2010’s The Trip, which is about a U.K.-famous Englishman and Welshman on a vehicular journey, Nick Hamm’s The Journey imagines what might have happened between two U.K.-famous Northern Irishmen on a road trip. One is Ian Paisley (Timothy Spall), an extremist (and extremely humorless) Protestant religious leader; the other is Martin McGuinness (Colm Meaney), deputy leader of the IRA’s political wing and their (alleged) former chief of staff. As they unhappily share a car to the airport for a peace conference, MI5 agent Harry Patterson (John Hurt) pulls technological strings from afar in hopes of manipulating the men into actually speaking to each other and finding common ground.

The Journey is not especially deep — the Telegraph called it “Wikipedian,” a very British burn — and it’s up front about being speculation rather than a slice of history. But for viewing pleasure, it’s hard to beat the verbal sparring between the avuncular Meaney and a more-Wormtail-than-Wormtail Spall. A note to the future film scholars who will surely categorize the timelines of narrative films into Before, During, and After the release of Snakes on a Plane: The pop-culture-savvy McGuinness mentions that the events of The Journey take place while Snakes on a Plane was still playing in U.K. cinemas. You’re welcome.

The Journey
Rated PG-13.
Opens Friday at the Clay Theater.

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