After a decade living in America, communist agitator Jimmy Gralton (Barry Ward) returns to his Irish country village to find the recently liberated people living in Depression-era squalor and under the rule of ruthless Church backed landowners. In response he erects a town hall, used for purposes political and otherwise, and draws the ire of a tenacious local cleric (Jim Norton). Ken Loach's Jimmy Hall is one sided. singular, and simple, though passionately made with the same presupposing scenic cinematography that commanded his The Wind That Shakes the Barley. Ward delivers a fine lead performance, Norton makes a veritable villain, and the picture contains several memorable and even powerful sequences: one at the hall where traditional Irish dancers are introduced to jazz, a heated debate among the clergy and their allies, and the hero's mother helping her son elude police capture.
*** out of ****