In the Name of the Father (1993)


(director: Jim Sheridan; screenwriter: from the autobiographical book “Proved Innocent” by Gerry Conlon/Terry George; cinematographer: Peter Biziou; editor: Gerry Hambling; music: Trevor Jones; cast: Daniel Day-Lewis (Gerry Conlon), Pete Postlethwaite (Giuseppe Conlon), Emma Thompson (Gareth Peirce), John Lynch (Paul Hill), Corin Redgrave (Robert Dixon), Mark Sheppard (Paddy Armstrong); Runtime: 133; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Jim Sheridan; Universal; 1993-UK/Ireland/USA)

“Passionate true-story about an Irish youth who was wrongfully convicted of a terrorist act.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Director Jim Sheridan (“My Left Foot”) helms this passionate true-story about an Irish youth who was wrongfully convicted of a terrorist act and served 15 years in prison, until released in 1989 when the forced confession was overturned due to the new investigations induced by mounting public pressure. It’s an apolitical political docudrama, aiming to be provocative rather than ideological, about screw-up Belfast native Gerry Conlon (Daniel Day-Lewis), living as a squatter in London when he was framed along with his friend Paul Hill (John Lynch) and two other acquaintances (Carole Richardson and Paddy Armstrong) for taking part in an IRA bombing of a pub that killed five in Guildford, England in 1974. It’s adapted from the autobiographical book “Proved Innocent” by Gerry Conlon and scripted by Terry George (Belfast journalist).

The narrativewill lead to the arrest as accomplices of Gerry’s religious father (Pete Postlethwaite), who opposed the IRA methods, and members of Gerry’s London living relatives, the Maguire family. Emma Thompson plays the relentless crusading lawyer who never stops gathering evidence to establish Gerry’s innocence and in the end secures his release when she brings out evidence of the forced confessions.

The courtroom scenes take dramatic license with the facts, which takes away some authenticity of the film. But that’s supplanted by the powerful performances, especially the ones by Day-Lewis and Postlethwaite. Also in a positive note, there’s the gripping personal story and the nasty exposure of British courtroom injustice.

Gerry’s memoir wishes to clear the name of his father, who died in jail after serving five years.