No filmmaker has had more films feature in competition at Cannes than British director Ken Loach. This year’s entry, allegedly his last film, is a rousing and romantic retelling of the true story of 30s Irish folk hero James Gralton.
“It’s easy to forget that no matter his penchant for tackling serious issues with historical weight, [Ken Loach is] also capable of crafting smooth entertainment – especially with his recent comedies Looking for Eric and The Angels’ Share – without sacrificing their credibility and intelligence. At 77, Loach hasn’t lost touch with this balance, as proven by his enjoyable period drama Jimmy’s Hall. Though it features a dramatic scenario involving the censorship of a small Irish town in the early 30s, Loach manages to enliven potentially stuffy material with lively storytelling and likable personalities. Chief among them is real-life Irish communist Jimmy Gralton (Barry Ward), who challenged the religious community in the provincial country town he grew up by creating a gathering place for locals to dance and engage in intellectual discussion. Naturally, that decision doesn’t sit well with the Church and its devoted followers, but the source of oppression in Jimmy’s Hall has less of a central role than the people who oppose it. A minor work by Loach’s standards, the movie nevertheless marks his most enjoyable effort in years.” — Eric Kohn, Indiewire
“It’s an unusual story, vividly and intelligently told, and one that leaves you with a stirring sense of joy, injustice and hope.” — Dave Calhoun, Time Out London
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