Monday, December 03, 2007

The Wind that Shakes the Barley: Grade B

The Wind that Shakes the Barley (2006)
Cillian Murphy. Director: Ken Loach

Irish Republicans form a ragtag gang to resist the British occupation in 1920. The camera follows Murphy as he reluctantly joins the gang when his tolerance for British brutality is exceeded. The group trains in the fields, steals guns from British barracks. Members are captured and tortured. Most escape and continue to fight until some endorse a cease-fire proposal while others reject it and are killed by the Brits. It is a one-sided story, sympathetic to the Republican cause, so even though it makes you want to learn more about the conflict, this is by no means an educational film. The acting is quite good throughout the cast, but there is no thematic development. It is just one incident after another. No ideas are presented beyond Irish: good; British: bad. The accents are difficult to decipher, but since there is no real story to follow, it doesn’t matter. The cinematography is sensuous and saturated with color. The Irish countryside is gorgeous. Music includes beautiful Celtic songs. Directing is impeccable. Costumes and sets convey genuine 1920’s. The movie is a treat for the senses, if not for the brain.

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