Quite the change of pace for our second movie choice. I was pondering the blog today while out for my allotted stroll. The podcast I was listening to dealt with Bernie Sanders’ decision to bow out of the race for President of the USA. The combination of the scenery, and discussion of socialist politics, brought to mind the movie Jimmy’s Hall (2014). It is the true tale of Jimmy Gralton, the only Irish citizen ever deported from Ireland, and was filmed on location right beside us here in the counties of Leitrim and Sligo. I think it’s an interesting movie and one that may have passed you by.
Spoiler free synopsis
Leitrim-born Jimmy returns to Ireland after years of exile in the USA. His mother and many friends are delighted to see him back -but Catholic priest Father Sheridan and the local authorities less so. The reason? This is Ireland in 1932 and Jimmy is a known socialist, to be treated with fear and suspicion. When he reopens the village hall for signing dancing and drama, this proves a step too far.
Will it make me sing the Internationale?
Anyone who knows the work of Ken Loach and writer Paul Lafferty will know where the movie’s sympathies lie. The last time the duo worked on an Irish movie it was the excellent “The Wind That Shakes the Barley”. Although Jimmy’s Hall also deals with the fallout from the War of Independence, it is much lighter fare than their previous effort.
For all it’s rebellious spirit and progressive DNA, Jimmy’s Hall is a nostalgic, charming and warm affair too. Some critics bemoaned that the characters debated rather than talked. To that I would say – of course they do, it’s Ken Loach. The accusations that it’s the Quiet Man meets Footloose are less fair. But quite funny all the same.
It stars Barry Ward as Jimmy, who we’ll meet again when we review Extra Ordinary. The ubiquitous Andrew Scott plays a somewhat less hot priest than he did in Fleabag and you may also recognize Aisling Franciosi (The Fall, The Nightingale).
Of all Loach’s films it’s more entertaining than essential. However, it’s well worth a watch, especially for those in search of an Irish story you haven’t heard before.
On date of writing it’s available for rent from Apple, Amazon and YouTube among others.
You might like this if you enjoyed:
The Wind That Shakes the Barley, I, Daniel Blake