This has been rumoured to be veteran Ken Loach’s final film, but it is his last using real film stock & was helped out by Pixar to find enough of it.
It had the potential to be so PC driven to be mawkish, but it steers a fine line between politics and humanity
It is based on the life of Irish communist Jimmy Gralton who helped build a community hall before following many others to New York in search of work. He returns to care for his mother & helps revive the hall, with education, arts & that evil modern dancing. Of course the authorities are not pleased.
But there is another story here, about the woman he left behind & who is now married with kids. She asks him why he stopped writing but he has no answer. Late one night she puts on the dress he brought back for her, and their silent, moonlit dance is as emotionally painful as it comes.
When the authorities learn Jimmy has US citizenship, he is arrested & sent to the States without trial, no chance for proper goodbye s or appeal.
He never returned.
I’ve seen plenty of films on Ireland’s troubles, all very worthy, but this is the first to really put it in terms of emotional pain, of how one person following his conscience could be punished, & his pain spread like ripples through his community.
A brilliant, poignant film that wears its politics lightly, but is all the more effective for it.