In the 1920s, political activist Jimmy Gralton built a dance hall in rural Ireland. As the hall grew in popularity its free-spirited reputation brought it to the attention of the church and politicians who forced Jimmy to flee and the hall to close. A decade later, at the height of the Depression, Jimmy returns from the US. The hall stands abandoned but as Jimmy sees the poverty and growing oppression in the village, the leader and activist within him is stirred. He decides to reopen the hall, and so takes on the established authorities of the church and the government.
A very moving film about the aftermath of British rule in Ireland, the Irish Civil war and the conflict between free staters and IRA supporters, and the oppression and control exercised by the Catholic Church. It brings to life the struggles of ordinary people to find some enjoyment and freedom in their lives, and shows very poignantly how political forces bring this to an end. The landscape plays a powerful role - green, empty, harsh, beautiful - as an impassive backdrop to the human struggles taking place in it. It highlights the complexity of the politics of the time, the strength of feeling on all sides, and how people who are trying to educate themselves, exercise some freedom, and enjoy themselves, are harshly put down.
Jimmy's Hall is a wonderful, capturing perfectly the divisions between Church and people, landed and landless in Ireland in the 1930s. As always Ken Loach pinpoints injustice without being didactic and we are fully drawn into the personalities that he includes in his film. For me this is, yet again, a must-see film by Ken Loach, a remarkable film maker and voice of social conscience.
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Thought provoking/ heart wrenching
- Jimmy's Hall review by PW
As always with a Ken Loach film I was prepared to have my heart wrenched. And it was. However here is a film which is ultimately about the triumph of the human spirit against those who have surrendered their spirit to what is perceived as a higher force (the Catholic Church, the State). The landscape is both ravishing and bleak, not unlike the lives of those depicted. Also a wake up for Irish people who see their only oppressor to be the English.