Omagh (2004)

TV Movie   |  PG-13   |    |  Drama

Omagh (2004) Poster

An examination of the aftermath of the 1998 Real IRA bombing that killed 29 people in Omagh, Northern Ireland.


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Pete Travis


Paul Greengrass, Guy Hibbert

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28 May 2004 | Oct
A new face every two minutes
The most salient fact about this TV movie is that its two hours' running time includes 65 speaking parts. Torn between focusing on one or two human stories behind Northern Ireland's worst terrorist outrage and giving a panorama of the politics that led to it, the production settles for wheeling on almost every Ulster character actor you ever saw and others besides. Even an Oscar winner, Brenda Fricker, is in there somewhere, so she is: blink and you'll miss her.

This jittery kaleidoscope creates confusion and dissipates sympathy; as soon as we begin to dig into one victim's backstory, we're off at another tangent. Neither good art nor good commerce, such worthy exercises in the reconstruction of recent events fall between the stools of documentary and drama.

Like many, "Omagh" is shot in "swivelvision" in the common but quite mistaken belief that this makes it look more "real"-- as though documentarists had never learned to use Steadicam. It tiptoes delicately through the minefield of libel that bedevils moveimakers trying to portray unresolved situations: a title at the end tells us that the suspected bombers all deny involvement, so there is no catharsis to be obtained by showing them going to jail. Making us feel sorry for the bereaved is easy meat; but like many an American "issue" movie, all this one will generate in viewers outside Northern Ireland is smug relief at being hors de combat.

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