The Wind That Shakes the Barley

Critics Consensus

Bleak and uncompromising, but director Ken Loach brightens his film with gorgeous cinematography and tight pacing, and features a fine performance from Cillian Murphy.



Reviews Counted: 113

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 36,885


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Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 4/5

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Movie Info

Ireland 1919: workers from field and country unite to form volunteer guerrilla armies to face the ruthless 'Black and Tan' squads that are being shipped from Britain to block Ireland's bid for independence. Driven by a deep sense of duty and a love for his country, Damien abandons his burgeoning career as a doctor and joins his brother, Teddy, in a dangerous and violent fight for freedom. As the freedom fighters' bold tactics bring the British to breaking point, both sides finally agree to a treaty to end the bloodshed. But, despite the apparent victory, civil war erupts and the families, who fought side by side, find themselves pitted against one another as sworn enemies, putting their loyalties to the ultimate test.

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Cillian Murphy
as Damien O'Donovan
Padraic Delaney
as Teddy O'Donovan
Mary Murphy
as Bernadette
Aidan O'Hare
as Steady Boy
Keith Dunphy
as Terence
Frank O'Sullivan
as Man in Pub
Gary McCarthy
as Volunteer
Tim O'Mahon
as Volunteer
Sean McGinley
as Father Denis
Graham Browne
as Volunteer
Owen Buckley
as Volunteer
Denis Kelleher
as Volunteer
Colin McClery
as Volunteer
Finbar O'Mahon
as Volunteer
John Quinlan
as Volunteer
Peggy Lynch
as Singer at Wake
Noel O'Donovan
as Station Guard
Barry Bourke
as Policeman
Corina Gough
as Woman in Search
Roger Allam
as Sir John Hamilton
William Ruane
as Johnny Gogan
Dan O'Riordan
as Elderly Man
Peg Crowley
as Elderly Woman
Kieran Ahmem
as Sweeney
Clare Dineen
as Mrs. Rafferty
Tomas Ohealaithe
as Boy on Bike
Nora Lynch
as Mother of Sick Child
Barry Looney
as Member of Ceilidh Band
Connie O'Connail
as Member of Ceilidh Band
Aine O'Connor
as Member of Ceilidh Band
Frances O'Connor (II)
as Member of Ceilidh Band
O'Riada Peadr
as Member of Ceilidh Band
Neil Brand
as Newsreel Piano Accompanist
Tom Chamock
as British Soldier Sergeant at Cottage
Alan Ready
as British Soldier Sergeant at Station
Mark Wakeling
as British Soldier Lieutenant
Anthony Byrne
as British Soldier Interrogator
Marcus Anthony
as British Soldier
Bill Armstrong
as British Soldier
Christopher Brown
as British Soldier
Mark Bryce
as British Soldier
Alex Dee
as British Soldier
Jonny Holmes
as British Soldier
Allan Huntley
as British Soldier
Bill Hurst
as British Soldier
Daniel Kington
as British Soldier
Jamie Lomas
as British Soldier
Anthony Martin
as British Soldier
Owen McQuade
as British Soldier
Richard Oldham
as British Soldier
Colin Parry
as British Soldier
Scott Peden
as British Soldier
Bernie Sweeney
as British Soldier
Derek Taylor
as British Soldier
Neil Alan Taylor
as British Soldier
Gregor Wood
as British Soldier
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News & Interviews for The Wind That Shakes the Barley

Critic Reviews for The Wind That Shakes the Barley

All Critics (113) | Top Critics (37)

Audience Reviews for The Wind That Shakes the Barley

A pair of working class Irish brothers are caught up in the troubles during the social upheaval caused by the fight for independence in 1920. Set during the same period as Neil Jordan's Michael Collins, The Wind That Shakes The Barley is a far more personal representation of the events depicted; while Jordan concentrated on the political movers and shakers of the period, Loach is far more concerned with the ordinary soldiers on the ground and the divisions that were created by the treaty of 1920. Although it centres around the ordinary working class folk of Ireland, I couldn't help the feeling that we didn't really get to know any of them on a personal level leaving little room for emotional attachments; we saw their political views and passions but learn little of them as people. Although its documentary style is more believable and gives a real sense of "being there" I felt Michael Collins had a stronger centre in the form of Liam Neeson's powerhouse performance and the wider scope had more value as a piece of entertainment. This film is still a powerful window on a tragic piece of Irish history however and if watched in conjunction with Jordan's biopic, makes for a extremely interesting companion piece.

xGary Xx
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

This film tackles head on the all-consuming power of an idea and the evolving nature of that idea in the face of reality. Like other films about the liberation movement in Northern Ireland such as Paul Greengrass' Bloody Sunday or Steve McQueen's Hunger, it is brutal, difficult to watch, and enraging. However, even in the face of these atrocities committed by the British, Loach shows that this isn't the timeless battle of good vs. evil, but rather one group of humans subjugating another. The monsters are in many ways innocent themselves and the oppressed are capable of the same barbarism showcased by their oppressors. It is an important film and one that is exceptionally well made.

Reid Volk
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

A well-done, powerful story concerning the battle for Ireland amongst the IRA (led by Cillian Murphy) against the power-hungry British during the 1920's. Director Ken Loach picked out some really gorgeous backdrops to film this story, and this add to his overall epic scope concerning the themes of loyalty, freedom, and family. Murphy's wonderful turn can not be understated, as he remains a scrawny but intense hero whose shift in character is handled exceptionally well. The movie overall is not a masterpiece, given it has some slow parts as well as a mega-depressing ending that needed a little more closure. Still a fine film in many respects, and definitely worth a view.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer

This one was a let down. I've seen many such stories of revolutionaries (replace Irish by Indians) fighting against British, and compared to them, this seemed quite pale (no offense intended). Having said that, I gotta admit that it wasn't a total failure. The vicious circle of violence set through the British soldiers killing the Irish, and in retaliation, the Irish revolutionaries killing the British, enlightened me to realize the indepth implication of the quote: "An eye for an eye will make the world blind." Till date, I considered it to be BS. It's so simple, yet so difficult to understand that violence only breeds violence. No matter what the motive, the ultimate result of violence is destruction. (Before long, all this knowledge will evaporate into thin air.)

familiar stranger
familiar stranger

Super Reviewer

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