1932. Jimmy Gralton is back home in the Irish countryside after ten years of forced exile in the USA. His widowed mother Alice is happy, Jimmy's friends are happy, all the young people who enjoy dancing and singing are happy. Which is not the case of Father Sheridan, the local priest, nor of the village squire, nor of Dennis O'Keefe, the chief of the fascists. The reason is simple: Jimmy is a socialist activist. So when the "intruder" reopens the village hall, thus enabling the villagers to gather to sing, dance, paint, study or box, they take a dim view of the whole thing. People who think and unite are difficult to manipulate, aren't they? From that moment on they will use every means possible to get rid of Jimmy and his "dangerous" hall.
I wonder what New Zealand would have been like if we had faced a civil war like that of USA or Ireland? What a major scar on the historical landscape of a country. This film tells the story of a nation coming out of civil war and trying to find its new identity. People are still internally at war with each other but the battles aren't as obvious. Instead of just resorting to killing there is so much more going on behind the scenes.
Set in a smaller village, Jimmy's Hall revolves around one man's attempt to bring the people together through a hall. I know, I am sure that you have guessed that man's name is Jimmy. That's the obvious part of the film, the rest not quite so. You would think that having a place where people can meet to celebrate and learn would bring a township together? Yet instead it threatens the control of many others which in turn leads to opposition.
Once again Ken Loach does an excellent job of bringing the drama in a very realistic format. There are hateful characters whom you can't help but hate. Isn't it rather ironic that people can show such a hate for people who they think are full of hate?
Moving performances by a talented cast bring the story to life with an amassing of passion. The true story that this film is based on, adds weight to the drama by showing that good stories generally come from our histories already lived and breathed.
An intensified look at how the world of politics infests every layer downwards within a country even to the smallest level of a local village Hall. A really moving film.
DVD Releases: 22nd April 2015
Rating: M – Contains violence and offensive language
Duration: 109 minutes
Starring: Barry Ward, Simone Kirby, Andrew Scott
Director: Ken Loach (The Wind That shakes The Barley, Angel’s Share)
It was selected to compete for the Palme d'Or in the main competition section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.