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With Jim Sabatini

The Wind That Shakes the Barley

The Wind That Shakes the Barley
Cillian Murphy and Padraic Delaney

Rated: No rating 
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: March 16, 2007 Released by: IFC Films

Last year's Cannes Film Festival top prize went to this haunting, if sometimes rambling Ken Loach film. The tremulous political situation concerns England and Ireland in 1920.

Cillian Murphy (Breakfast on Pluto, Red Eye) is solid as a promising physician, Damien, in Ireland, becoming less tolerant of the way the British authorities are acting. Teddy (Padraic Delaney) is Damien's brother, helping him get into the movement of the Irish Republican Army.

The British seize the opportunity to pressure the denizens, sensing the opposition by putting an ultimatum in front of them unless they support a treaty. Elements of Amazing Grace and The Last King of Scotland are felt in a movie that can be shattering, but may not feel as powerful as the latter of the aforementioned.

Still, one is honestly drawn into Damien's idealism in the face of the ugliness around him. Loach and his writing colleague Paul Laverty understand the pain of the natives for centuries without having to build any exposition for it.

Grim reality is densely meshed with long-windedness, desperation in ways that give an intimacy to the Irish milieu, an edge to the nuance that hardly mitigates the vital issues at hand. The turmoil simmers within the individual factions, especially in the case of where nationalism and pride takes Damien and Teddy.

The film speaks of the lyricism of the verse of Robert Dwyer Joyce of the unity in the face of doleful words and external chains, even if the outcome is easily forecasted by those less discerning. One can be appalled at where the cruelties lead, especially given the driven nature of both sides. Loach has crafted another rough, thematic work, less gripping than others of his impressive oeuvre. Too loquacious, this Wind still resonates with a complex populism and social injustice as the conclusion connects with a stunning ironic blow.

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The Wind That Shakes the Barley       B       B

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