The Wind That Shakes the Barley ★★★★

More than anything, this movie should be seen as the continuation of a project most famously seen in The Battle of Algiers: The story of a nation, told in the story of a man. However cliched and saccharine this may sound, this focus on the small, human struggle when telling the story of a larger historical even, provides an emotional impact, and a feeling of deeper historical understanding, than the most precise documentary. This placing of history at the level of the human, while remaining totally political (the film is nothing if not a great work of Socialist Realism, however hackneyed that term is), is intensely inspiring and effecting. The performances by Cunningham and Delaney are fantastic, and Murphy is genuinely beautiful to watch. The performances are aided by the style of the film, which is loose enough to let the characters stumble through their words, and wander around, because that's what real people do! The great pleasure of this film is this stumbling, the feeling of chaos and uncertainty, because it breaks down your defenses. By the end, you've felt like you've watched a people grow and struggle, along with a deeply personal story of duty and family.