Sometimes reaching an agreement is a result of hard work. Other times it’s because of an unrelenting drive to reach common. And then every great once in a while, sheer luck and good fortune are to blame (or to thank) for a positive outcome. Negotiations are rarely an easy route to navigate. The biggest challenge is the fact that both sides typically want something that the other is unwilling to give freely. Patience, diplomacy, tact and an overall sense of empathy are all positive steps in achieving such goals. The Journey tries to tell once such story without boring audiences to death.
The Journey tells the story of a very important meeting that took place between representatives of two opposing political parties in Northern Ireland, the Democratic Unionist Party and the Sinn Féin. Ian Paisley (Timothy Spall) is the stone-faced leader of the DUP and he is far from delightful. Martin McGuinness (Colm Meaney) is a politician for the left-wing Irish republican political party and his personality is a polar opposite of his counterpart. The pair embark on a seemingly normal journey which ends changing the course of Irish history.
It should be noted that The Journey is based on actual people and actual events. The story that is put forth in this movie however, isn’t necessarily completely factual. It is more of a broad strokes piece with creative liberties taken. Timothy Spall does a good job playing the grumpier older man. He also switches it up by showing a softer side. Colm Meaney also brings forth a serious side to his character with a bit of youthful exuberance. The two have instant chemistry that is a necessity in this type of setting. While the majority of the interaction takes place between the two main characters, there is some interesting banter from the costars. Freddie Highmore (A&E’s Bates Motel), Toby Stephens (Starz’s Black Sails) and John Hurt (Alien (1979)) also star in the political drama.
While the acting is good, the plot is a bit too bland for my tastes. Audiences may find a compelling silver lining in how things play out. History buffs, those with an interest in the political makeup of Ireland or fans of a slower paced low key story stand a better chance of being entertained throughout. To each his or her own, ya know.
The Journey wanders aimlessly as it hopes to find a compelling storyline somewhere. Sadly, even with its short 94 minute runtime, I found myself wondering when this trip down memory lane would be coming to an end. Yes, parts of what has been said to have happened between these two were interesting but not to the point that I’d recommend others rush to see it. If foreign politics appeal to your cinematic strong side, then by all means consider seeing this feature. Seeing this at home or at a steep discount might be the wisest decision. This is one negotiation story that could have been best served untold.