The Wind That Shakes The Barley

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner22/06/2006

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 127 mins

Impeccably directed by Ken Loach, this is a powerful, compelling and ultimately moving film with a great deal of resonance for current political events.

What's it all about?
Written by regular collaborator Paul Laverty, Ken Loach's Palme D'Or winning drama is set in Ireland in 1920 and stars Cillian Murphy as Damien, an idealistic young doctor who joins the newly formed IRA after the occupying British Black and Tans brutally murder one of his friends.

As the IRA grow stronger, the fighting gets more and more brutal, until both sides sign a treaty to end the bloodshed. However, some (Damien included) view the treaty as a betrayal and civil war soon erupts, making enemies out of men who had once fought side by side.

The Good
Murphy is terrific in the central role and his softly spoken, essentially passive demeanour is used to powerful effect as he's forced to make difficult decisions. A scene in which he confronts a treacherous colleague is heartbreaking.

There's also strong support from Padraic Delaney as Damien's idealistic brother, Teddy, and from Liam Cunningham, as Dan, a train driver turned revolutionary. Both characters offer conflicting viewpoints to Damien (and, by extension, the audience).

The Great
Loach is no stranger to on-screen depictions of thorny political situations, having previously tackled the Spanish Civil War in Land and Freedom. In fact, The Wind That Shakes The Barley closely resembles Land and Freedom, even down to the lengthy scenes of political discussions in bars.

There are some extremely impressive scenes here and Loach draws some effective parallels with today's political situation in Iraq. The film has its fair share of political discussion but Laverty is careful to ensure that we're invested in the characters and the end result is undeniably powerful.

Worth seeing?
To sum up, this powerful, moving and superbly acted drama is a worthy Palme D'Or winner and one of Ken Loach's best films to date. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 26/06/2019 12:56

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