It was like Irish night on the red carpet yesterday morning, with the premier of “Jimmy’s Hall” – the story of 1930s socialist activist Jimmy Gralton – the only Irish citizen to be expelled from the Republic. Cast members such as Barry Ward and Aisling Franciosi and Simone Kirby were there alongside veteran British director Ken Loach. It’s the 13th time in competition at Cannes for the left-wing film-maker. “Jimmy’s Hall” is likely to be his swansong and it was very well received by the assembled critics. The subject matter seems to hit a key note in terms of its relevance to today’s Europe and the cinematography and dance scenes impressed greatly, with praise being heaped on the performance of its up-and-coming leading man Barry Ward.
There seems to a be a schism of sorts between the generally warmer reception from the European press and the more critical analysis of the Anglo-Americans. The Hollywood Reporter compared it to an uneasy cross between The Quiet Man and Footloose while the Daily Telegraph described it as a “facile Irish political drama” and “a disappointing swansong to a great career”. Overall, however, the reaction would suggest that Loach is still in the running for a second Palme d’Or. The last time he won was for another Irish film set in revolutionary/civil war times, “The Wind that Shakes the Barley” in 2006.
In other news, Jean-Luc Godard maintained his reputation as the unpredictable enfant terrible of French cinema, by describing fellow film-maker Quentin Tarantino as a “cad” and a “poor little boy” in a radio interview given on Europe 1 yesterday. His harsh words do reflect a certain weariness that the French public are having with a man who used to be France’s favourite American director, but most utterances from JLG are by now taken with a larch grain of salt.