1993’s In the Name of the Father begins with almost risible melodrama about British vs. Northern Ireland confrontation before concentrating on the 1974 bombing of a Guildford, England pub and the arrest of the Irish foursome—the Guildford Four—accused of the bombing. This included Gerry Conlon, here played by Daniel Day-Lewis, on whose book (Conlon’s, that is) the movie is based. After the melodrama, the film nicely aspires to tell the truth about young people, hippies included, just as it reveals a stoic IRA leader to be coldly inhuman.
Woe is me, though: I have read that in its anti-British tendentiousness Father is a historical fraud, yet another phony docudrama. The Guildford Four may have been guilty, and in fact some of what we see does not have the ring of truth. The IRA leader in prison with Conlon is fictitious, but that’s okay, undamaging to the film. The rub is that one wants more truth than lies in a film which is assuredly partisan. We don’t want ambiguity all but rejected because director Jim Sheridan hates the British presence in Belfast. Only this, I believe, keeps Father from being recommendable.