If there was one Cannes Competition entry you could absolutely set in stone before the announcement last week, it was Ken Loach's “Jimmy's Hall.” The 77-year-old king of British social realism has been in Competition 11 times before, making him the most-tapped filmmaker in the festival's history. So there was no way Thierry Fremaux and his team weren't going to make it an even dozen with the film that Loach has stated will be his final narrative feature.
Written by Loach's regular collaborator Paul Laverty, “Jimmy's Hall” returns Loach to the period terrain that won him the Palme d'Or in 2006 with “The Wind That Shakes the Barley.” Based on a true story, it stars character actor Barry Ward as Irish communist activist James Gralton — the only Irishman ever deported from Ireland, after he built a dancehall on a rural crossroads that also served as a venue for political discussion.
Loach's signature themes of activism and independence are present and correct, then. This trailer suggests it;s one of his more uplifting outings, though with a bit more gravitas than his last fiction feature “The Angel's Share,” which won him the Cannes Jury Prize in 2012.