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Wind that Shakes the Barley, The


Stars: Cillian Murphy, Padraic Delaney, Lian Cunningham, Orla Fitzgerald, Gerard Kearney

Director: Ken Loach

That old dog Ken Loach is up to his old Brit-bashing tricks again in this highly partisan look at the trouble and strife that ripped Ireland apart in the early 1920s.

Mercilessly oppressed by the 'black and tan' British soldiers, who believed the only good Irishman was a dead Irishman, the Southern Irish, refused a republic of their own by Britain, formed themselves into guerilla units and fought back.

Damien (Murphy), about to become a doctor, is appalled by the atrocities, and joins the IRA, swiftly moving from pacifist to firebrand. When a truce is eventually declared, his brother (Delaney), another leading IRA man, agrees to join the new Irish authorities. But Damien, now the complete rebel, refuses to swear allegiance to the crown, and strives to continue the struggle.

Although the British soldiers are shown as unremittingly brutal, not all is as black and white as in many Loach films, especially the arguments between Irish factions which culminate in virtual civil war.

Dour and downbeat, but sparked with effective action sequences, Loach's film casts an interesting spotlight on a fading era, and you only wish there had been a bit more explanation at the end as to how the republic developed.

David Quinlan

UK/Ireland/Germany 2006. UK Distributor: Path?. Colour.
124 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 12 Jul 2006