Leaving the contemporary lumpemproletariat (perfectly depicted in "My name is Joe" or "Sweet Sixteen" inter alia), Loach use is talent to portray the not so old conflict for independance in Ireland. The man is skilled with this type of historical evocation. "Land and Freedom" was a successful attempt.
So, this time we focus on the war between the Irsih and the British during the 1920 - 1930 period. Since seven centuries Irish people fight for freedom. An irish government have been elected but is unrecognized by the United Kingdom. This film show the day to day life of column fighters. Precisely we track the destiny of two brothers, Damien and Teddy O'Sullivan. The first is a physician, an intellectual and well educated and the second a charismatic leader. Conflicts of interest always occur : it's then not so easy to take the life of a former youth friend when he is guilty of treason and even not so easy to suffer from torture without saying a word.
As the victory arise the two brothers personify two faces that will shape the new Ireland : an idealistic form inspired by growing socialism in this era for Damien and a more realistic one for Teddy which will accept in fine the economic domination of the United Kingdom. This opposition will climax in an end that should be discovered by the viewer.
The scenario is then of good writing and the movie follow approximmately a good tempo. It starts very well with a unfair lynchage of a 17 years old boy in a irish farm. In five minutes every protagonists of the story are introduced together with their love affairs, hopes and personal goals. This is indeed the best part of the movie. One may feel a little distant and out of tempo, but not firmly speaking bored, by following training of warriors even in a very beautiful Irish landscape.
A good point is the good rendering of world complexity. British soldiers are veterans of Somme battle and campaign of WWI, they were at that time fighting for freedom. The executioners and victims exchange their roles and the uprising is finally torn apart by the signature of a treaty which is not satisfying the dreams of everybody. In time of revolutions (i.e the french revolution or the russian revolution of 1917) such things may happen : former co-fighter become enemies. If one surimpose everyday life struggles (for power, love or wealth) during these heroic times one obtain certainly a good story and probably good movies.
In the end that's the kind of movies on concern.