Ken Loach's Route Irish doesn't shy away from asking some tough questions
Mark Womack and John Bishop star in the Paul Laverty-penned Iraq-themed drama
You can almost feel Ken Loach and Paul Laverty (see interview) bracing themselves for another critical onslaught by the establishment. It happened to the director/screenwriter duo with their Irish civil war drama The Wind that Shakes the Barley, and it’s bound to occur again with this dark tale of a British soldier’s decent into brutality after his tour of punishing duty in Iraq. Fergus (the brilliant Mark Womack) lives an affluent but sterile existence having earned hefty sums for his mercenary endeavours in the Middle East but the mysterious death of his best friend (John Bishop) in Baghdad sets him off on a trail of bloody fact-finding and gut-wrenching retribution.
Womack’s portrayal of a broken man simmering with pain, rage and combat stress, hell-bent on finding the truth no matter what, is a devastating one but he is let down slightly by some less than compelling performances around him. There are a few sticky passages in the middle section while the ending feels rushed, leaving you slightly cold when you should be traumatised. But by asking some tough questions about morality during wartime and with their hearts and minds solidly in place, it’s hard not to back Loach and Laverty to the hilt.
Selected release, Friday 18 March.