The Old Oak


Believe it or not, The Old Oak is Ken Loach’s final film. After a career of more than 60 years, the British director — a two-time Palme d’Or winner whose works include such masterpieces as Kes, The Wind That Shakes the Barley, Land and Freedom, and My Name is Joe — is calling it a day. 


That’s the bad news. The good news is that The Old Oak is a more-than-fitting sendoff for such a major filmmaker. It’s a social-realist work that wears its lefty politics on its sleeve, as usual, and it delves deeply into character, managing to be heartfelt and emotional without being sentimental. 


A pub owner, TJ Ballantyne (Dave Turner), struggles to keep afloat in a withering mining town in Northern England. His situation is complicated by the arrival of Syrian refugees, who are placed in the community’s empty homes. The two communities are wary of each other and the atmosphere is rife with resentment. Both sides are hurting, but bridging the gap proves difficult. 


Mixing professional actors with newcomers and filming it all on location with a gritty, uber-realistic feel, The Old Oak is unmistakably a Ken Loach film, and all the better for it. 

“His late work is unmistakable, driven by fierce moral clarity and outrage on behalf of the people whom capitalism and Britain’s government, supposedly constructed for citizens’ benefit, have left behind,” said The New York Times in its rave review.