The Old Oak, Ken Loach’s last film: the final part of his Northeast Trilogy and a distinguished, politically committed career.
End of an eraby Alexa Dalby
The Old Oak
CAUTION: Here be spoilers
In an unlikely friendship, the landlord of an ailing local pub TJ Ballantyne (Dave Turner) meets a curious young Syrian Yara (Ebla Mari) with her camera. Can they find a way for the two communities to understand each other? So unfolds a deeply moving drama about their fragilities and hopes.
The Old Oak finds Ken Loach fully committed to the late style he has developed since the turn of the century. Less concerned with the social realism of his early work, Loach’s characters embody broad types occupying immediately recognisable ethical or ideological stances. This register is at once initially jarring (and quite theatrical) but familiar once one considers the director in question. As he approaches the end of a remarkable career, Loach is interested in solutions, often located in community action and support, which drift into quasi-utopian grounds. Unique to The Old Oak, however, is a minor, but persistent meditation on the power of photography to document and communicate across cultures and differences. It is not a stretch to consider this Loach’s reflection on his own role in the many noble causes he has sought to portray and support over the decades. – The Garden Cinema
The Old Oak premiered at Cannes and is released on 29 September 2023 in the UK. It is released on Studiocanal’s Home Premiere on 13 November 2023.
“A Vital, Moving Social Parable” – Deadline
“A film as fired up and human as any you’ll see this year” – Time Out
“Brilliant, elegiac and heartbreaking” – Financial Times
“A film with genuine heart and hope” – The Herald