Film review: In the name of the father (1993)

Very powerful, moving and suspenseful story. Originally I saw this film in the mid 90s at school and even wrote an essay on it. I have since watched the film several times, now one of my favourites.

Based on a true story. Partly a prison drama and legal battle, partly a story about growing up. I remember being especially moved by the deeply emotional scenes between the father, Pete Postlethwaite in an oscar nominated supporting role, and his son played by Daniel Day Lewis in arguably one of his best parts. The performances made their characters very believable and come to life in a way I have seldom seen in other films. The characters imprisonment obviously makes it easier for us to be on their side. Father and son have different personalities and have contrasting perspectives on life. During the story their relationship develops, the father tries to teach his son to have more respect for himself, fight and take more responsibility. This film is littered with great acting, Emma Thompson is also good.

I thought the film expanded my knowledge on the IRA and the judicial system. The message of the film is very clear. The filmmakers are openly criticizing certain groups. Some were opposed to the film, as liberties were taken with the details of the story to make it more simplistic than it really was.

I feel in recent years ‘In the name of the father’ has been slightly forgotten by movie watchers. I don’t know why, the story stayed with me all these years. People at least to my knowledge rarely mention or recommend it, so this review is my way of getting people to rediscover or discover this film for the first time. It was nominated for 7 oscars, surprisingly going home empty handed.

Maybe one of the best Irish films ever made. I thought it was superior to My left foot (1989), which was made by the same director Jim Sheridan, also starring Daniel Day Lewis.

Much like The Shawshank Redemption (1994), In the name of the father is a film I feel drawn towards whenever it’s shown on TV.

Do yourself a favour, skip the trailer, too many spoilers.




  1. I have to disagree. It's not a bad film, but it didn't seem to have the staying power to be remembered beyond the year came out. It felt designed to get Oscar nominations.

  2. Ok, it's fine you disagree. I never felt the story was designed to get Oscar nominations. It definitely has a nostalgic value to me. Maybe it could have taken more risks and been more detailed/ambiguous as I said in my review.

    But I think you would be hard pushed to not include 'In the name of the father' in a top 10 of Irish films.
    I'm curious, which Irish films do you think have staying power, any you can recommend me? ( :

  3. You know what, on second thought I think I have a bit of prejudice against this film. I remember all the commercials when this film came out in 1993 that bombarded you with how wonderful and Oscar nominated the film was without telling you anything. I think I carried that into my viewing 13 years later.

    Unfortunately, I have seen this movie and maybe one other Irish film that I can't recall at the moment. It's a national cinema I really haven't begun to tap into. In other words, if you have any suggestions for me the get them to me. I'm a quarter Irish after all so I should know their cinema.

  4. I know the feeling when a movie gets hyped, 'Pearl harbour' became a joke, the amount of times we had seen the trailer ( :

    I'm no expert on Irish film industry, either ( : But Neil Jordan is among the top Irish directors, you could start with arguably his best film 'The crying game '

    'Angelas ashes' is the best Irish novel I have read, the movie was so so. A guilty pleasure of mine is 'Far and away', some of that is set in Ireland.

    I haven't seen them yet, but you could try David Lean's epic Ryans Daughter. Or 'Bloody Sunday'. 'Waking Ned Devine' I've heard gives a good depiction of Irish life. The Commitments often gets mentioned, which I feel I ought to have seen.

    I am curious about Neil Jordan's Ondine (2009), but I don't know, might be more of a chick flick ( :

  5. It's tough to find pure Irish films. I guess you have to settle for an Irish director like Neil Jordan, Jim Sheridan, or Paul Greengrass.

  6. I have always loved this film, but I haven't seen it in years.

    An yes to "Waking Ned Divine"! Other great Irish films are "Into the West" and "My Left Foot". I am also looking forward to watching "Kisses".

  7. The trailer for Waking Ned Divine looks good ( :

    Don't know "Into the West" or "Kisses", thanks for the suggestions. I'll check the trailers.

  8. By the end of the movie, whether or not you're a member of Sinn Fein, the Brits' brutality toward the Conlons will get your Irish up.

  9. Sadly this is the only DDL film I haven't seen. Great writeup though, I may have to check it out this week.

  10. @ The Movie Snob

    Thanks for the follow. Hope you enjoy "In the name of the father" I'd be interested to read your review ( :
    If you like, feel free to suggest some films I might like on my "to see list" ( :

  11. This review is spot on with regards to the the emotional scenes between father and son - You could take away the main subject matter of the film and replace it with something else and it would still be an excellent piece of work, once the core painful story of the father and son is retained.
    I remember watching the film several times as a child and being distraught each time by that part of the story.

    I noticed Ondine mentioned above. From the scenes I've watched, it's one film I will be very slow to view, mainly due to the mediocre screenplay, acting and attempts at a "provincial" dialect!

  12. @sundryandco

    Thanks for stopping by. Good point. I agree you: "could take away the main subject matter of the film and replace it"

    I saw Ondine (before your comment), didn't like it. Beautifully shot, but wafer-thin story.

  13. Great review. I love this film and Daniel Day-Lewis is personally my favorite actor currently (I mean his performances in 'My Left Foot', 'There Will Be Blood' and 'Gangs of New York' are just spellbinding).

    BTW if you'd like to see more informative IRA films I would recommend 'The Wind That Shakes The Barley' (to do with the origins of the IRA) and 'Hunger' (to do with Bobby Sands and his hunger protests).

    Keep it up!

  14. @Sam Lockley : Thanks for the recommendations!, I have actually already seen those two you mention, Hunger was a powerful film I want to rewatch sometime, as I love prison films.

    Sorry, I thought Wind That Shakes The Barley was a bit boring and overrated, didn't quite deserve Palme d'or at Cannes for me.

  15. Stunning film. Two brilliant performances from Day Lewis and Postlethwaite and superbly directed.


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