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'The Journey' is an unconvincing talkathon that might have worked better on the stage

Timothy Spall and Colm Meaney star as Protestant British conservative loyalist Ian Paisley and Catholic former Irish Republican Army leader Martin McGuinness, respectively.

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Colm Meaney (l.) and Timothy Spall in a scene from 'The Journey.'

Courtesy of Steffan Hill/IFC

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A trumped-up dramatization of a hypothetical 2006 meeting between Protestant British conservative loyalist Ian Paisley (Timothy Spall) and Catholic former Irish Republican Army leader Martin McGuinness (Colm Meaney) is the pretext for “The Journey,” an unconvincing talkathon that might have worked better on the stage as a two-man showpiece. 

The men’s meeting serves the cause of Irish reunification, but the movie itself never coheres into anything believable. We are asked to believe that outlandish circumstance leads these two enemies to share a limo ride in which they, especially Paisley, come to realize that neither is Satan incarnate. Meaney gives a knowing, well-humored performance, and Spall has a high old time devouring the scenery. But director Nick Hamm and screenwriter Colin Bateman are glib puppet masters. If only corrosive political antagonisms such as these were so neatly resolved. Grade: C (Rated PG-13 for thematic elements including violent images and language.)

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