Review – Jimmy’s Hall
Day 9 – The letter ‘J’ – And this time, to Ireland, for the Ken Loach directed drama ‘Jimmy’s Room’ based on the true story of Jimmy Gralton, the only Irishman ever deported from Ireland.
Its 1932, and Gralton is returning to village of his birth in Leitrim, Ireland. He is returning having spent a number of years in America. He is returning to an Ireland still recovering from the civil war and still divided about the treaty with Britain. Moreover, it is also a place and time where the power of the church is huge on the people of the area.
As Jimmy begins to build his life again in the area, he is asked by the locals to fix and re-open a local hall that he had previously helped build for people to congregate and enjoy themselves free of the oversight of the strict church.
The hall gives Jimmy an increasing profile with the local community and he is invited to speak during a rally of local workers on strike. The speech that he gives at the rally is a highlight of the film as the language used as Gralton describes his experience of the US depression and the greed and avarice that led to it sounds comparable to recent economic issues.
As things progress the politics of Gralton, combined with the dislike that the church take to his ability to unite the locals via the hall itself become an increasing issue.
This is far from Loach’s best work. Its story is not without poignancy nor merit in the tale but at the same time it spends so long on the build up of his hall and what it means to the locals that the fast pacing in the 3rd act misses the real story.