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The Old Oak


Year: 2023 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Ken Loach 
Starring: Trevor Fox, Debbie Honeywood, Dave Turner  
An image from The Old Oak

The latest film from the powerful director Ken Loach highlights the overwhelming importance of cooperation and solidarity in a time of severe economic and social upheaval, making this an importantly relevant film for modern society. This film closely critiques the treatment of refugees in the UK especially those who are settled in temporary accommodation, it is an incredibly pertinent message, and this film does not just present this is simple manner with no depth, but instead explores how and why they are mistreated. Examining how normal people are turned against others by sensationalist media and politicians pushing for harsh policies, and further making the point that we are not all so different and should rise above this attempted division to find solidarity in our shared experiences. This message is carried across clearly through the leading performances from Dave Turner and Ebla Mari, who both face challenging roles as the film makes heavy use of short words of dialogue and facial expressions to carry across feelings. Yet every single one of these nuanced lines or looks are performed exquisitely by Turner and Mari as they communicate far more than paragraphs of dialogue ever could, they show kindness and understanding excellently which is what we now need more than ever. The storyline follows pub landlord T J Bannatyne (Dave Turner), as he attempts to manage the last remaining public place in the former mining town which is facing heavy economic downturn. This economic downturn is being exacerbated by real estate agencies which are buying up nearby properties for cheap and imposing high rent rates, further bleeding the town members dry and as they collapse local property values. This town full of empty housing is made available to Syrian Refugees which further raises tensions as the locals turn on the refugees with falsely attributed blame. Bannatyne is caught in the middle after allowing his backroom to be run as a community supper centre by the Syrian refugees immediately after he refused to open it up as a place for the locals discuss their anger at the new residents. After making friends with Yara (Ebla Mari), one of the refugees, her and Bannatyne grow to have a kind friendship and work to ease the tensions within the town. This is a story of friendship and solidarity which highlights how such different people can have beautiful, shared feelings in a way which proves how similar different people are despite what mainstream media may try to tell you. It is an all-important lesson which needs to be seen by as many people as possible.

James Patt

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Screenings of this film:

2023/2024 Autumn Term (digital)