The Wind That Shakes The Barley (2006)

Had I written about this film right after leaving the theatre I might having praised the film for its brutal depiction of violence and revenge, so stomach turning that you wonder how anyone could ever resort to either and still remain human.

Instead, I am writing about this film an hour or two after last scene tugged at my heart strings and all I can think is, what happened to Ken Loach and why should anyone trust the taste of the Cannes festival judges?

The same director responsible for Poor Cow and Raining Stones has proved that he can do better, but The Wind That Shakes The Barley won the Palme D’Or. Why?

The film sure does look pretty and it stirs emotions, but it also sticks of some of the worst cliches and trappings you’d expect to find in any Hollywood history lesson.

I simply cannot understand why Loach cannot tell a sympathetic story kind to the struggle of Republicans fighting to free Ireland from Britain, with out employing the tired story of two brothers who find themselves on opposing sides. Furthermore, need to bring the film to a near screeching halt for a throw-away scene of two moonlit lovers finally enjoying a moment together is horribly hackneyed.

I should have seen this scene coming from a mile away, in fact there was a moment, earlier in the film, when I wondered if the awkward emphasis placed on the lead character and this one female character would lead to such a hoary need for romance among politics. However, I gave Loach the benefit the doubt and hoped that he would stir his picture away from such trivial and even bogus matters in favor of the politics at hand. I was wrong.

I’d expect this mix of melodramatic drapery and historical action (and violence) from some one like Mel Gibson, not Ken Loach. Still, for all its faults, The Wind That Shakes the Barley does a great job of depicting the physical pain that comes with any act of violence as well as the endless cycle of retaliation that spawns from such violence.


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