The Wind that Shakes the Barley

In last year’s Cannes champion, director Ken Loach and his longtime screenwriter Paul Laverty dramatize the crux of Ireland’s history—the early ’20s, in which a guerilla insurgency rose up against the British Empire, scored an unsatisfactory measure of independence and then descended into civil war over what to do with it. Lefty Brit Loach isn’t quite the IRA apologist his infuriated critics would suggest, but he presents his sympathies frankly—with the Brits tending not to evolve beyond barking Black and Tan thugs and the Irish remaining poignantly heroic: Damien (Cillian Murphy) gives up his budding medical career to fight alongside—and eventually, against—his brother Teddy (Padraic Delaney). Loach’s characteristically unceremonious presentation glamorizes nothing; you’ll notice the lack of bloody spectacle, but still feel the gut-punch realization of how raw and messy revolution really is. Believe it or not, you’ll also be allowed to figure out for yourself how it all relates to today’s world.

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