Posted by: dailymovierec | January 18, 2008

The Wind that Shakes the Barley (2006)

The winner of the 2006 Palme D’or, this terrific drama depicts the roots of Ireland’s civil war on a close and personal basis. This film takes the traditional depiction of a civil war pitting “brother and against brother,” and makes it a literal narrative, as two brothers come together and grow apart over the course of the conflict. Director Ken Loach is careful to make sure that the film shows, and doesn’t tell – we are allowed to interpret for ourselves the cost of the conflict, and the cost of peace, and weigh the benefits of each ourselves.

The cast does a wonderful job of portraying the emotions and motives of their characters. Cillian Murphy is absolutely captivating as the protagonist, allowing us to see reality through our own eyes, while readily admitting that his is an imperfect narrator. A true ensemble piece, the interplay between the actors makes the narrative completely believable – no one rises above, making the story first and foremost important.

Loach has created both a historical piece and ferociously current piece with this movie. Unlike other historical epics (Braveheart comes to mind), there is no whitewashing of history for the sake of a heroic figure. The film is brutal, and it is honest. Highly recommended.

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