Presenting new movie Jimmy’s Hall last week at Cannes Film Festival must have felt like being on home soil for veteran Ken Loach.
In 1932, after ten years of exile in the United States, Jimmy Gralton comes back to Leitrim, Ireland to take care of his mother and their property. He’s urged by the town’s young people to reopen the “hall”, a community centre open to everyone to talk, learn, dance and feel free. But soon, under religious pressure, people start to divide.
Eight years after winning the Palme d’Or with The Wind That Shakes the Barley, Loach is back with a sequel of what happened to Ireland for the ten years afterwards. The movie is respectfully shot in Leitrim County, rebuilding the hall and employing as many locals as possible. And the director was right to do so because the ambiance of the hall, the smell of Ireland’s rolling green, and the feeling of freedom and courage carry the audience away.
The cast is great, and a special bravo goes to Barry Ward and Simone Kirby for their spontaneous and natural performances. Together they create a wonderful story of love, and each puts everything into carrying the movie.
Even if the light, the score, the characters, the message and the sum of the movie’s parts should work, Jimmy’s Hall seems a little flat and soulless. It is a beautiful portrait, both of a man and a community, and due to the lack of detail concerning Jimmy Gralton’s life, it must have been difficult to imagine faithfully. But every revolution, and particularly one about sharing, learning and feeling free to live, deserves to resonate more that the director allowed in this film.
Nevertheless, as with all Ken Loach movies, Jimmy’s Hall is a must-see because it is always good to feel the force of his cinematographic commitment.
Jimmy’s Hall is released nationwide on 30th May 2014.
Watch the trailer for Jimmy’s Hall here: