Star Rating:

The Wind That Shakes The Barley

Director: Ken Loach.

Actors: Cillian Murphy, Liam Cunningham, Padraic Delaney, Siobhan McSweeney

Release Date: Monday 30th November -0001

Genre(s): Drama

"How are we going to fight a war with a hurley?" Since his directorial debut in the late '60s, Ken Loach has always portrayed the gritty realism of the everyday, working man and in The Wind That Shakes The Barley he turns his attention to the simple folk of West Cork in 1919. Despite Ireland being in the grip of a bloody war against their British overlords, Cork man Damien O'Donovan (Murphy) is still intent on furthering his career as a doctor in London. However, when the Black and Tans attack a local house and beat one of his friends to death, Damien and his brother Teddy (Delaney) swap their hurleys for rifles and embark on a bitter, bloody war of independence. Loach's directing principles dictates that he only uses local actors from the area that he is shooting in and this approach gives his films an authenticity rarely found in other mainstream films (and is probably why mainstream success has eluded him for so long, the lack of 'stars' damning his projects before it begins).What luck it has been then to be able to cast a rising star with massive potential in Cork man Cillian Murphy. After impressive turns in Red Eye, The Girl With The Pearl Earring and Batman Begins, Murphy hit the big time last year as Patrick 'Kitten' Braden in Neil Jordan's Breakfast On Pluto which is (dare it be said) the nearest metamorphosis of actor and character since Robert De Niro and Jake La Motta. Here, Murphy shows that that role was no fluke and he is flawless as the reluctant and torn Damien. His co-stars give him a run for his money though as Padraic Delaney almost steals the show while the ever dependable Liam Cunningham turns in another sound performance and newcomer Orla Fitzgerald - as Damien's love interest - takes to the screen like a veteran. Loach has a talent for making an ordinary scene with little or no dialogue seem like an epic and this one has a few that will stand out in the memory. There is nothing like a Brit-bashing movie to angry up the blood but scratch the surface and you'll see that Loach's latest opus goes far deeper than your Michael Collins' or your Braveheart's as he makes a comment on every imperial country who invade smaller nations for their own ends.