JIMMY'S HALL (Ken Loach) =. 109 minutes. Opens.

JIMMY’S HALL (Ken Loach) =. 109 minutes. Opens Friday (July 17). See listing. Rating: NN

When Ken Loach brought Jimmy’s Hall to Cannes last year, word was that it would be the storied British filmmaker’s last feature. He’s since walked that back, and I’m glad to hear it I’d hate to see him go out with a duffer.

Jimmy’s Hall spends a couple of hours on a tiny slice of Irish history: in 1932, Communist activist Jimmy Gralton came home after a decade of exile in New York City to reopen a social club and dance hall in his tiny village, immediately coming into conflict with the Church and eventually the government. 

Comparisons to Footloose are both easy and entirely warranted, with Loach and screenwriter Paul Laverty framing the conflict as one between their pure-hearted hero (Barry Ward) and a perpetually scowling priest (Jim Norton) who uses his pulpit to rain judgment and damnation on Jimmy and his fellows. 

Jimmy’s Hall plays like a companion piece to Loach’s The Wind That Shakes The Barley, and that movie’s flaws are at work here as well: sluggish pacing, didactic dialogue and a tendency to frame characters entirely through their politics.

People are never just one thing or the other. Loach used to understand that. 

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