The preview for this movie played to a full house at Picturehouse, no doubt with almost half those in attendance being Caucasians, and I'd bet almost everyone is curious to the pedigree of Ken Loach's latest film that snagged that Palme d'Or at last year's Cannes Film Festival.
The Wind That Shakes the Barley is a mouthful, and it plays like a thinking man's Braveheart. While Mel Gibson's Academy Award winner was set in the 13th Century with the Scots battling the English for independence, Wind tackles similar subject matter about oppression, the rallying to arms and the battle for independence, set in early 20th Century in Ireland, sandwiched between the two World Wars. As such, there are many parallels between the movies in terms of the politics behind the scenes, the arguments for and against their rationale of armed resistance and struggle, though Wind doesn't have the large scaled set action pieces for war, and it doesn't need to.
It takes a very intimate look at the historical background of the Irish Republican Army, as seen through the eyes of two brothers Damien (Cillian Murphy) and Teddy (Padraic Delaney). The movie doesn't waste time in establishing a rather biased fact, that the English troops are despised for their arrogance and the crimes that they commit among commonfolk, much like the Robin Hood days. It doesn't take two ticks for Damien to enlist with the IRA for their armed struggle against oppression witnessed by many, and soon enough they discover that their political ideals differ.
Yes, it's as much a talkie movie as it is one with action. Even without background of the politics of the time, you'll still be able to follow through much of the debate given passionate performances, and fiery speeches made from the heart, given the universal subject themes. As always the case, differing ideals become the crux of the issue, and that adage that power corrupts ring through, especially amongst those at the top echelons, the politicians versus the man on the street. What I thought was intriguing, was how freedom was negotiated, as a compromise rather that complete, yet with plans in the backburner on going against such agreements when one becomes more powerful - the classical giving an inch and taking a yard, when the time is correct, with a powerful base to work from.
Cillian Murphy gives yet another commendable performance as Damien, a freedom fighter (or terrorist, depending on how you see it) fighting for the injustice he experiences and observes. Padraic Delaney too holds his own as Teddy the brother, and the two cannot be more different, especially when they stand for the same ideals, disagreeing on execution. One's an idealist, while the other doesn't mind compromise, but both share extreme pain in doing what they deem morally right.
Despite Spider-man's much awaited sequel making its debut worldwide this week, Wind is one movie that I'll recommend if summer blockbuster's aren't your cup of tea. Highly recommended, and if your interest is piqued on the struggles of the early IRA days, you can click on this link to learn more.