The Wind That Shakes the Barley

As political tensions brew in early 1920s Ireland, brothers Damien and Teddy (Cillian Murphy and Padraic Delaney) abandon their civilian lives and take up arms to liberate their country from the oppressive "Black and Tan" squads of Britain. Winner of the Palme d'Or at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, Ken Loach's provocative drama examines a microcosm of civil war in Cork, Ireland. Liam Cunningham co-stars.
HD Available
Netflix Rating: 3.6
Rotten Tomatoes: Fresh 88%
Critics' score: 88   Audience score: 86   Rotten Tomatoes page
Top Rotten Tomatoes Critics

Gripping, powerful, heart-breaking. full review

Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer

Raises hard questions about Ireland's uncanny ability to kneecap itself. full review

Kyle Smith, New York Post

[Loach] has made an often handsome, always sobering movie that does what the best movies do: leave us a whole lot less sure about what we ought to think.

Robert Denerstein, Denver Rocky Mountain News

[Loach is] the master of the docu-drama or the realist social film, and Wind is one of his masterpieces. full review

Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

As frequently happens in both Loach films and history, the betrayal of ideals, socialist and otherwise, leaves a harsh aftertaste, which made me feel sadder but not much wiser. full review

Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

The Wind That Shakes the Barley isn't interested in being a straightforward or romanticized history lesson. Rather, [director] Loach offers an examination of the very nature of rebellion, as filtered through the particulars of the Irish troubles. full review

Eleanor Ringel Gillespie, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The humanity that Loach and his compassionate screenwriter bring to their story prevents it from being another polemic about how the British screwed Ireland. full review

Ruthe Stein, San Francisco Chronicle

Director Ken Loach is full of astonishments. In this film, he stages raid and counter-raid, big gunfight and small, with stunning dynamism. full review

Stephen Hunter, Washington Post

Great film. Ken Loach is such an important filmmaker, he's made so many great films over the years, and it's great to see another director, like Eastwood and so many others in his 70's, who continues to be at the top of his game.

Richard Roeper, Ebert & Roeper

... you can feel the panic, rage and fear of the participants, and there's a rare sense in the movie of history being less recreated than relived. full review

Geoff Pevere, Toronto Star

... despite its length (over two hours) and some structural problems, it is an absorbing, worthwhile and often passionate movie. full review

Richard Schickel, TIME Magazine

The Wind that Shakes the Barley is dense, brutal, with moments of shattering emotional power, and the cast performs with fierce conviction. full review

David Ansen, Newsweek

A truly Irish tale, The Wind That Shakes the Barley demands some work from American audiences. full review

Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger

The acting is solid all around -- so convincing that the rough Irish accents are appropriately indecipherable at times, and the story itself is as tragic and complicated as that moment in history. full review

David Edelstein, New York Magazine

... Ken Loach's The Wind That Shakes the Barley may be the most powerful look yet at the guerrilla-styled Irish rebellion against occupying British forces in 1920-22. full review

Jack Mathews, New York Daily News

What does come through is Loach's characteristic disdain for cheap romanticism and easy answers. full review

Wesley Morris, Boston Globe

... the history presented in "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" hardly feels like a closed book or a museum display. It is as alive and as troubling as anything on the evening news, though far more thoughtful and beautiful.

A.O. Scott, New York Times

Loach has the gift of finding the intensely moving private emotions in broad, societal dilemmas. He does that with his fine new film, The Wind That Shakes the Barley, and he does a few new things as well. full review

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times

This is a classic example of [director Ken] Loach's work with his longtime screenwriting partner Paul Laverty, meaning that it blends colorful scenery with meticulously rendered sociology, straightforward family drama and tendentious political debate. full review

Andrew O'Hehir,

Folks who are heavily invested in stereotypes of thuggish terrorists may balk at Loach's portrait of articulate IRA ideologues. But there is no denying his ferocious grip on our emotions. Barley is one tough and beautiful film. full review

Jan Stuart, Newsday
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