As political filmmakers go, Ken Loach makes the admirably committed John Sayles look like a tenderfoot. Now in his sixth decade of filmmaking, the British director shows no signs of softening his stance, even amid recent rumors of a possible retirement. A dedicated social-concern standard-bearer in his films and a strident activist in his life, Loach is capable of balancing his passions when he’s on his game (see My Name Is Joe and Sweet Sixteen, for instance). When he’s not, his films can get talky and obvious—and alas, Jimmy’s Hall finds Loach working with stilted material.
Loach and his frequent screenwriter Paul Laverty return to Ireland, the setting for their beautiful The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006).