Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. Ireland/United Kingdom/Germany/Italy/Spain/France/Belgium/Switzerland, 2006. Sixteen Films, Matador Pictures, Regent Capital, UK Film Council, Bórd Scannán na hÉireann, Filmstiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Element Films, BIM Distribuzione, EMC Produktion, Tornasol Films, Diaphana Films, Pathé Distribution, Cinéart, TV3 Television Network Ireland, Filmcoopi Zürich. Screenplay by Paul Laverty. Cinematography by Barry Ackroyd. Produced by Rebecca O’Brien. Music by George Fenton. Production Design by Fergus Clegg. Costume Design by Eimer Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh. Film Editing by Jonathan Morris. Cannes Film Festival 2006. Toronto International Film Festival 2006.
Moved by the heinously violent oppression that he and his fellow Irishmen suffer under British occupation, a previously unpolitical doctor (Cillian Murphy) inches more and more towards radicalism and in the footsteps (and beyond) of his IRA leader brother in 1920s Ireland. This mesmerizing, if long, drama by Ken Loach (which took the Palme D’Or at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival) examines not only the motivations behind the grassroots military activity that Irish citizens took against the British crown, but also examines (to unforgettable effect) the period after the peace treaty between the two countries that saw violence turn inwards amongst the Irish themselves. A heartbreaking but deeply felt dramatic epic, it is brought beautifully to life by the dead-on performances and the loveliest post-Quiet Man images of Ireland ever photographed (when since Excalibur have there been so many deeply gorgeous pools of green on the big screen?) Loach, whose usual style of social realism concerns itself with modern-day characters, shows an equally adept feel for period drama.