Loach was roundly attacked for this 1920s set story of resistance to the British occupation of Ireland (“Why does Ken Loach hate his country so much?” – Daily Mail; “must-not-see”, The Sun). The narrative and playing are convincing, possibly to the point of undermining any message that the director and writer (Paul Laverty) may have had in mind. Here’s a clue: “there’s always an army of occupation somewhere” (Loach). (127 mins)
Dir: Ken Loach, Ireland, UK and three other EU countries 2006


“A fine anti-war film. Very, very sad and almost too good. Words fail me!”

“A good portrayal of the ugliness of civil war with countryman vs. countryman and brother vs. brother. I hated the fingernail scene! ”

“All very tragic and nasty but a well balanced film. Glad to see that, in common with Buñuel, the Church gets a swipe! Will they rebel against Brussels?”

“If this was a true portrayal then I’ve learnt a lot tonight and cleared up even more of my (mis)understandings. Bravo for showing this film!”

“Much of it hellish but I suspect the film told it as it was – and to-day in some other countries – (still) is.”

“A powerful film but the relentless violence was a bit hard to take. Very black and white (and) politically biased.”

“British Army violence a bit over the top. However, remember that during World War II, the Royal Navy had to protect food convoys to Ireland – who had denied them use of their harbours. Period detail generally OK, especially the use of Crossley tenders by the Army.”

“Very powerful and biased (but) too long. There can be no winners in a conflict which has lasted 50yrs! Much more overpowering in a small auditorium – I first saw it in Sauchiehall Street (cinema in Glasgow)!”

“An exhausting experience. No emotional string left unpulled or unplucked. As subtle as a steam hammer!”

“This was a very difficult film to watch. Oh, the futility of war and the waste of such young lives!”

“Very powerful and believable but how ironic that the Irish (rebels) ended up shooting their own (men).”

“Quite hard to understand some of the dialogue. A bit long and drawn out. Ken Loach – a man with a message! ”

“A potentially interesting film ruined by the appalling pro-IRA bias. Their amazing reaction of shock when one of their own had a (single) hair of their head hurt summed it up. Perhaps Ken (Loach) could make a film about the pro-Union people (Protestant and non-Protestant) murdered by the IRA on a purely sectarian basis.”

“Four films about resistance to oppression already this year – too much!”

“Strong meat – enough to send some away from the table. A bit too melodramatic at the end but ultimately, very well done.”

“Too bad the violence early on was unbearable for some.”

“A worthy winner of the Palme d’Or, if a little long. It would be good to hear the views of those who were unable to see the film (all the way) through.”

“A very powerful film. The first scene explained the history of recent [indecipherable] and the examination scene, of Damien, summed up the tragedy of Ireland! Why did those people leave (the auditorium)? What were they expecting? What do they think war, and (especially) civil war is all about?”


A:28, B:7, C:4, D:1, E:2 to give 85%