Ken Loach’s camera pans and tilts its way through The Wind that Shakes the Barley, as though its wandering gaze is in search of a fixed center, adrift in a world of shifting allegiances and gruesome violence. The off-the-cuff naturalism of Loach’s technique proves something of a blessing here, blunting the impact of the film’s brutality and giving it an intimate, human scale. Barley, which was a surprise Palme d’or winner at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, looks at the anti-British uprising in Ireland in the early 1920s through the experience of two brothers, Damien and Teddy O’Donovan (Cillian Murphy and Padraic Delaney). Their ever-morphing attitudes give Loach and screenwriter Paul Laverty a way into the broader conflict, but the focus here remains resolutely personal, on how ordinary people experience political occupation and the devastating consequences of violence perpetrated by people on both sides of the cause.
Click here to read more of Chris Wisniewski’s review of Ken Loach’s “vital and engrossing” new film The Wind That Shakes the Barley.