The Journey

Summer blockbusters are sneaking up on us, and I’m really hoping Nick Hamm’s modest film The Journey doesn’t get lost in the seasonal shuffle.

If Kevin Smith took a swing at a political drama, I imagine the end result would resemble The Journey.  Not that Hamm’s movie is immature, but it’s a dialogue-heavy, back-and-forth, buddy film hybrid between two brazen opposites that reminded me of Smith’s early roots as an indie filmmaker.  Another relevant comparison is how The Journey doesn’t perceive its simplified settings (the backseat of a car, the shoulder on a backroad, and a withered church) as strikes against it.  The film adapts quite well to its small scale, and gains momentum through the intelligent dialogue and characterization.

Filmmaker Nick Hamm has been blessed with two sensational performances by Colm Meaney and Timothy Spall (Meaney plays politician Martin McGuinness, Spall plays Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley).  However, the film works because the director has given special attention to the primary relationship in Colin Bateman’s fictitious screenplay.  The chemistry between McGuinness and Paisley gradually develops over the course of a pivotal road trip involving these two conflicting personalities, with their driver (Freddie Highmore) occasionally provoking them.

The Journey is a rich film of passionate debates, surprising amusement, and poignant political texture.  And while it doesn’t intentionally carry a timely message, we could all use a reminder of how two opposing sides can sensibly speak to each other.


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