During the Depression, Jimmy Gralton returns home to Ireland after ten years of exile in America. Seeing the levels of poverty and oppression, the activist in him reawakens and he looks to re-open the dance hall that led to his deportation.
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1932. Jimmy Gralton is back home in the Irish countryside after ten years of forced exile in the USA. His widowed mother Alice is happy, Jimmy's friends are happy, all the young people who enjoy dancing and singing are happy. Which is not the case of Father Sheridan, the local priest, nor of the village squire, nor of Dennis O'Keefe, the chief of the fascists. The reason is simple: Jimmy is a socialist activist. So when the "intruder" reopens the village hall, thus enabling the villagers to gather to sing, dance, paint, study or box, they take a dim view of the whole thing. People who think and unite are difficult to manipulate, aren't they? From that moment on they will use every means possible to get rid of Jimmy and his "dangerous" hall.Written by
The real Jimmy Gralton was the only Irishman ever deported from Ireland after Irish Independence. After the release of the film, a campaign (including an online petition) was started with the aim to rescind the deportation order and extend an official apology to his family. See more »
Tobacco consumption (cigarettes, snuff and pipes) was extremely widespread at the time, yet none of the characters are seen to smoke, even at raucous social occasions. See more »
The IRA are even on the fence. They don't want to upset the church.
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During the opening credits, black and white news reel footage of New York in the 1920s, accompanied by jazz music, is shown. See more »
"Jimmy's Hall" (2014 release from Ireland/UK; 109 min.) brings the true story of what happened to Jimmy Gralton upon his return to Ireland in 1932. the movie's opening titles are accompanied by archive footage of New York in the late 20s/early 30s. As the movie opens, we are told it is "County Leitrim, Ireland, 1932", and we see Jimmy coming back to Ireland after 20 years in New York (presumably because of the Depression and related unemployment). It's not long before Jimmy and his friends decide to renovate the Pears-Connelly Hall, so as to give young people and the community a place to gather for dancing, reading, drawing, singing, etc. (we would call it a "community rec center" these days). This does not sit well with the local priest, who claims 'exclusivity' for all things that could be deemed educational, nor are the local landlords pleased. At this point we are 15 min. into the movie, but to tell you more would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this is the latest movie be legendary British director Ken Loach, now a crisp 79 years young (and similar to Woody Allen in his never-ceasing output). Loach is well-known for using his films as social commentary, and "Jimmy's Hall" is no exception. For me, that is not an issue, and Loach has made a number of stunningly beautiful and captivating movies over the years. Hence I was ready to like "Jimmy's Hall" very much. Alas, it was not to be, for several reasons: first, the movie is not very helpful to let us understand why certain factions take a particular position (we are never told what beef the landlords have with Jimmy and his friends) or why the issue of the land ownership matters initially, and then a bit later on it doesn't. But the biggest disappointment I have with the film is that at no point did I become emotionally invested in any of the main characters. Yes the local priest is easy to loathe, and we all do, but we are not given a chance to really buy in to Jimmy, or his friends, or his romantic interest. It all just happens, for seemingly no reason. If this was a fictional story, I'd have walked out an hour into the movie, but since this movie is "inspired by the life and times of Jimmy Gralton" (as is announced at the beginning of the movie), I wanted to find out how it would all unfold. There are some fine performances, but I found the chemistry between Jimmy (played by Barry Ward) and his romantic interest (played by Francis Magee) completely lacking and unconvincing. Last but certainly not least, there is a very nice musical score to the movie, featuring both traditional Irish music and jazz from the 20s and 30s.
I had seen the trailer for "Jimmy's Hall" a few times and was really looking forward to this. "Jimmy's Hall" finally opened this weekend at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati. The early evening screening where I saw this at was attended okay but not great (I counted 12 people, including myself, of which one walked out halfway through and didn't come back). As much as I like Ken Loach, this is not none of his best, I'm afraid. But I certainly encourage you to check it out, be it in the theater, on Amazon Instant Video, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion about "Jimmy's Hall".
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