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Movie Review: The Wind that Shakes the Barley

Alternate Title: When Irish Eyes are Crying

Story: Within the first ten minutes of this terrific film by director Ken Loach I was ready to pick up a gun and join the IRA in their ages old fight against the British. In this Palme D'or award winner at Cannes (beating out Volver and Babel) we find ourselves in 1920's Ireland revisiting another shameful chapter in the Irish/British history.

Loach and co-writer Paul Laverty explore the lives of two brothers, one a revolutionary and one a would-be doctor who find themselves embroiled in Ireland's struggle for Independence. The film tracks the period of rebellion before the truce that ultimately set apart Northern Ireland and began the 'troubles' with which we are all so familiar. The second part of the film traces the results of that 'truce' that set brother against brother and neighbor against neighbor.

This is a powerful, emotionally depleting film to watch. It is honest, political and real. Loach spends time on the politics of this awful history and how some viewed the truce as a betrayal and how others viewed it as a step towards independence. These topics are relevant today as well.

If you like your films with harsh reality, tough stances against the British, fine acting, beautiful cinematography and a wee bit of the Irish than this film is for you.

Acting: Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later, Breakfast on Pluto, Batman Returns) is joining my favorite actor list with this amazing performance. He is fine to look at and always gives a powerful performance. Padraic Delaney as his brother is also riveting. The rest of the cast is perfect too.

Predilection: Long time Lobo readers know that I have a thing for films about 'the troubles' and tend to like all things Irish (except their NYC parade).

Critters: A three legged dog, cows, horses and a donkey.

Food: Other than some gruel there is no time to eat when you are a revolutionary

Soundtrack: Emotionally strong.

Opening Titles: Simple type set over the always beautiful Irish countryside.

Visual Art: Ireland is a landscape painter's dream.

Theater Audience: Crowded on St. Patrick's Day morning.

Weather: Fog, rain, chill and sun - all things Irish.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: There is a torture scene that is very difficult to watch. The British are portrayed as brutal occupiers.

Drift Factor: I did not drift for a second.

Predictability Level: High

Tissue Usage: I admit to using a tissue.

Oscar Worthy: Why not?

Soap Box: We are still feeling the ill effects of the Imperialist occupations of the British Empire around the world today.

Big Screen or Rental: This is a fine film that should be seen on the big screen. For some of my other favorite films about 'the troubles' you could rent An Everlasting Piece, Bloody Sunday, Blown Away, In the Name of the Father, Some Mother's Son, The Boxer, The Crying Game, Michael Collins, The Informer, The Devil's Own and The Outsider.  

Length: Close enough to two hours for me.