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Route Irish (MIFF Review)

Route Irish (MIFF Review)

The Iraq war according to Ken Loach
Jul 31, 2011
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Route Irish
Genre: Drama, Thriller Runtime: 109 minutes Country: UK, France, Italy, Belgium, Spain


Director:  Ken Loach Writer(s): 
Paul Laverty

Cast: Andrea Lowe, John Bishop, Mark Womack, Stephen Lord, Talib Rasool, Trevor Williams
Route Irish (MIFF Review), reviewed by Tom Clift on 2011-07-31T19:15:57+00:00 rating 3.5 out of5

Although it features all of director Ken Loach’s typical filmmaking and storytelling trademarks, Route Irish has the same basic plot — and the same ultimate point — as countless other post 9/11 thrillers and episodes of 24.

After his best friend Frankie (John Bishop) is killed in Iraq, Fergus (Mark Womack), haunted by flashbacks of his own time in the war, begins to suspect that the private army for which they both worked may have been involved the murder. Drawing Frankie’s wife Rachel (Andrea Lowe) into his investigation, it soon becomes clear that they have become involved in an insidious cover up, and must choose to either abandon their mission or push on and discover the truth.

Loach’s feelings about the Middle-Eastern occupation certainly make themselves felt, but the film never really suffers because of it. A scene of torture towards the end is ham-fisted to be sure, but that doesn’t make it any less horrifying, or lessen the point Loach is so clearly trying to make.

Blending excellent performances from the entire cast with several moments of intimate tension, Route Irish, like so many of Loach’s films, ultimately becomes a tale about the morals of its already questionable protagonist. As Fergus grows more and more frantic for justice, his actions push him abruptly past point of no return, before arriving at an outcome that neither he nor the audience could predict, yet in hindsight seems tragically inevitable.

Although not especially revelatory as either an Iraq War film or an entry into Loach’s filmography (which also includes The Wind That Shakes the Barley and Land and Freedom), Route Irish is still a success as an often troubling, occasionally thrilling and always tragic low-key drama.

Tom Clift is a web-based film journalist from Melbourne, Australia. Visit his website here: http://reviewsbytom.blogspot.com.

You can read all of Tom Clift’s coverage of MIFF 2011 here.

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