"The Wind That Shakes the Barley"
Directed by Ken Loach.
Written by Paul Laverty.
Starring Cillian Murphy, Padraic Delaney, and Liam Cunningham.
Release Year: 2006
Review Date: 4/24/07
I'm glad that I got my buddy Yac to come see
"The Wind That Shakes the Barley" last week with me--I like catching
movies with my man flick significant other...but, much like my
experience going to US-based Irish pubs, I was left dissatisfied
with the experience because the film is an up-and-down affair.
Based on the early days of the IRA, the film
covers the exploits of a small cell of Irish men who join the IRA to
fight against the British soldiers who are occupying Ireland in
1920. The cast of characters is a ragtag bunch who start the
film with about as much "military" training as I have, coming from a
couple of villages in the Irish countryside; quickly, though, they
have the framework in place for the kinds of random, spotty
quick-hitting guerrilla charges that made them an effective force
against the larger British Army. Initially, they are led by
Teddy (Padraig Delaney) and his brother Damien (Cillian Murphy, from
"Batman Begins") as they work with a small crew of about a dozen
other men to take out various officers and operations all over the
region; by joining forces with men of all walks of life, the various
IRA cells continue to do damage while occasionally being arrested,
tortured and eventually escaping their British captors...at least,
for a while, because you just KNOW that eventually, the big bad
English bastards are gonna catch up with our principals as they work
their way towards an eventual peace treaty with the British
I was telling Yac during our viewing of this
flick that it felt a lot like either "Red Dawn" or any film
involving the WWII Nazi regime as the bad guys; the British are
clearly the world's evil bastards in this film and by coming over to
occupy Ireland, the good-guy ragtag nature of our leads makes for
fun, kill-the-well-endowed-uniformed-officer scenes where you find
yourself rooting for the Irish to take down the Brits at every
opportunity. The film is VERY difficult to understand for an
American who can't swim through the thick Irish accents of the
leads; in fact, this film is one of the few UK productions I have
seen where subtitles might actually be a good idea. Even by
the end, I couldn't understand about a third of what was being said,
which is rare for me, because when I see Brit productions, it
usually takes me the first ten minutes or so before I am down with
the speed and the terminology being used, and then I'm good.
Not so in this one!
But then you have leads that are
interesting, and engaging, with characters that look chummy and you
feel that trench-built friendship as these guys commit crimes
against The Man. But then again, you have a film that runs a
bit too long for what initially gears up as a war-ish adventure-like
drama and then gets really long in the tooth before it's all over.
Ahh, but the cinematography is quite good and I'll admit--even not
being from the UK, I loved it every time a British soldier yelled
"Fucking Irish!" at our beloved heroes...but, not knowing the true
history behind the real-life events depicted here, I was left a bit
lost in terms of how the last 20 minutes of the film shook out.
This experience was a bit messy for me, and
the strange thing was that I was awake the whole time. I'm
sure that a combination of the film's drawn-out second half and the
fact that I seriously couldn't pick up so much of the dialogue hurt
me in the long run, but I still think "The Wind That Shakes the
Barley" is worth seeing. Especially if you are fucking Irish.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard