Went to see the Wind that Shook the Barley last night, ironically two days after receiving a DVD copy of my favorite Loach movie, Land and Freedom. Not brilliant. If, as some people have argued, Loach was playing around with Brecht’s alienation technique, it certainly worked on some of the audience. Two guys sitting near us talked incessantly the whole way up until they sneaked out an hour and half in and another guy was partially engrossed in a text conversation towards the end. Unlike the Spanish film (which draws considerbly from Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia) the narrative is weak to the extent it’s hard to believe that any of the characters have any human relation relation to one another – particularly the two brothers. The improvised technique produces genuine passion, but you get the feeling each character is in a slightly different film of their own (distinctly modern) imagining.
There was, on the whole, far too much emoting and not enough story telling.
There were some good bits. They usually coincided with the most uncertain parts of the plot: the Flying column commander pulling IRA men out of shock after having slaughtered twenty odd British soldiers and trying to get them to focus on their reasons for being there. And the priest berating the Irregulars from the pulpit probably had the best lines in the whole the film.
This film is essentially a specialist viewing for the film buff or the Loach fan who wants to have seen the complete catalogue.