Nick Hamm’s The Journey is a Sunday afternoon political drama. It’s a laid-back, easy-going piece that cruises along (almost literally) on the performances of Timothy Spall and Colm Meaney. Spall and Meaney play Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness, political enemies on a car journey through the Scottish countryside as their respective political parties attempt to thrash out a lasting peace in the north of Ireland.
They Journey is a light-hearted dramatic effort that doesn’t have much gravitas. The performances from the leads are good, although Spall runs very close to becoming a Paisley caricature, while Colm Meaney plays a character who is incredibly similar to Irish actor Colm Meaney (there’s no Derry accent going on here). Having said that, they share good chemistry and there’s a few moments when Colin Bateman’s script shines somewhat (so it does). Hamm struggles to give the film scope, as it’s pretty much made up of two men talking in a car, but for a few ariel shots and some plot diversions which add a welcome change of scenery. In retrospect this might work better as a theatre piece.
The Journey’s real star turn comes from Toby Stephen’s supporting role as Tony Blair – frankly he’s the best thing here and I could happily watch a film where Stephens navigates his way around the political machinations of 10 Downing Street. The Late John Hurt also appears as an ageing intelligence agent while most of the supporting cast of Games of Thrones subsidise their incomes and fill-up their weekends in smaller roles.
The Journey isn’t essential viewing and at times it feels like a lack lustre TV movie rather than a big screen venture. It’s never going to offer a detailed look at ‘The Troubles’ but it features enough nods to history to make it worthwhile for those interested in the subject matter. Ultimately, The Journey is a slight tale that’s well played by a good cast. It’s not a historical document but it’s a decent enough film if you’re interested in watching something about the Irish political situation that doesn’t take itself too seriously.