Veteran director Ken Loach won the top prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for a moving and powerful film about Ireland’s fight for independence.
Damien (Cillian Murphy), his girlfriend Sinead (Orla Fitzgerald) and his brother Teddy (Pádraic Delaney) are three young people whose lives are torn apart in the conflict.
“The British are depicted as cardboard cut-out thugs and the motivation for the protagonists is delivered with a heavy hand when a lighter touch is needed.” – BBC
“This is an example of that increasingly rare beast in modern cinema, a serious, thought-provoking film for grown-ups” – Channel 4
First it’s the poor bloody Tommies, traumatized by the 1914-18 war, kicking the hell out of the poor bloody Irish and then it’s the poor bloody Irish kicking the hell out of each other.
In near perfect period detail, Ken Loach records a dishonourable moment in British Imperial history whilst pointing the finger at today’s new imperialists and freedom fighters. In this classic Loach film the victims are not from any one nation, they are the working classes, the poor and the oppressed and their oppressors, as in his other movies, are the ruling classes and their lackeys.
For those who shy away from Loach’s political sermonizing, there are a few moments of dialectic when all but the most committed might glance at their watches but over-all this is Loach at his best – emotional, humane and thought provoking.
His great skill is the near miraculous way he brings truthful, realistic performances to the screen. His actors come across as real people in a documentary whose fate demands our attention and our tears.
The central focus is on two brothers played with real charisma and searing emotion by Pádraic Delaney and Cillian Murphy. Equally powerful is Orla Fitzgerald as Damien’s lover, the fiery young woman from a family of staunch, stoical women where her mother and grandmother played by the magnificent Mary Murphy and Mary Riordan act as a Greek chorus when their cottage is repeatedly the symbolic battleground for Ireland’s long tragic history.
Whatever your political beliefs, this film will open your hearts to all victims of oppression – past and present.