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Home Reviews LFF 2010 LFF: Route Irish
LFF: Route Irish Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Saturday, 23 October 2010 20:07
Director: Ken Loach
Cast: Mark Womack, Andrea Lowe, John Bishop

Ken Loach moves from Looking for Eric to Saving Private Frankie with this bleak war-themed drama. Fergus (Womack) and Frankie (Bishop) were best friends. They grew up together, went to school together, shipped off to Iraq together. Not as soldiers, you understand, but as mercenaries with a security firm; a company making profit from the privatisation of Britain's war efforts.

When Frankie dies on the road between Baghdad airport and the Green Zone (the titular Route Irish), it seems like a straightforward sad loss of life. But when a mobile phone turns up and reveals the slaughter of an innocent Iraqi family, Fergus starts suspecting something a little more sinister.

Asking questions and angering authorities, he blunders around in a heat of guilt, rage and battle-inflicted stress. It's a strong, conflicted turn from Mark Womack, who carries Paul Laverty's script with an engaging intensity. Some notes don't always hit true - particularly regarding his relationship with Frankie's widow, Rachel (Lowe) - but it's a committed performance that ranges from drunken stupidity to full-on water-boarding torture.

Bringing the fight onto home ground, Loach lurks around a cloudy Liverpool with a keen sense of how everyday life can be shattered by a military past. At times a conspiracy thriller and at others a character study, Route Irish finds a hazy middle ground that makes for compelling viewing. An exploration of grief and army practice, it's a dark and provocative piece with a resolution that lies less in government cover-ups and more in the mundane deception of routine.


Cheer-free but thought provoking, Route Irish doesn't let its topic feel dated. A solid piece of film-making.


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