Jimmy's Hall - Blu-ray Review

'rarely has Ireland looked this emerald. The outdoor scenes are all vivid idylls, the indoor shots dusty reminisces'

Ken Loach's Jimmy's Hall is beautiful. Shot by Robbie Ryan, a rising star of cinematography, rarely has Ireland looked this emerald. The outdoor scenes are all vivid idylls, the indoor shots dusty reminisces. If this is to be Loach's last film, as he claims, then at least he is bowing out on a visual high.

Content wise this isn't amongst Loach's best, though nor by any means are we in the territory of the recent Route Irish. The story fits snuggly into Loach's political wheelhouse. Returning home from ten years of exile in New York, James Grantham (Barry Ward) sets about stirring up the same feelings that saw him deported in the first place. His hall serves as a community meeting place where, according to the authorities (church, police and local conservatives) his pastimes and socialist leaning stir up anti-Christian feeling in the locale.

With that sort of background you would think Loach might once again conjure the complicated political discussion engendered in The Wind That Shakes The Barley, but Jimmy's Hall turns out to be a much simpler film where the good fights the bad. On the rare occasion that a middle line is drawn between the two, Loach seems to go out of his way to bypass it. The reliable Andrew Scott and Jim Norton feature as priests with various levels of hangup over the treatment of Jimmy, but Scott's character gets one speech and then never raises his ire again and Norton's superior doesn't raise his own heckles until far too late in the game. For the rest of the film, Jimmy's supporters battle the religious zealots with little sign of advanced discussion on the merits of either side.

In that equation and in this setting it is always going to be difficult for something to stand out as above the ordinary and such is the case here. A scene in a confession box between Jimmy and Father Sheridan (Norton) is crackling poetry, but it's a rare moment. Everything else is as lost as the Jimmy/Oonagh (Simone Kirby) love story, which is inert and sidelined far too often to give the film genuine heart.

By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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