Total Film - 12/01/2006 4 stars out of 5 -- "Loach turns history into grand drama with economy, soul and an impassioned cast, particularly the charismatic Cillian Murphy."
Ultimate DVD - 12/01/2006 4 stars out of 5 -- "[P]rovocative, powerful filmmaking up there with his best."
New York Times - 03/16/2007
"[I]n watching THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY...it is possible to appreciate both Mr. Loach's passion and his sense of nuance."
Entertainment Weekly - 03/23/2007
"Loach gives good righteous nobility. He paints the film in dark, rain-on-the-emerald-moor colors, and he provides fascinating details of how the Irish guerilla struggle developed." -- Grade: B
Entertainment Weekly - 09/07/2007
"Ken Loach ably captures the battle against British tyranny with an intimate tale..." -- Grade: B+
USA Today - 09/07/2007 3.5 stars out of 4 -- "Loach's intimate, natural style always makes us feel as if we're spying on something..."
Wall Street Journal - 05/19/2010
"[The filmmakers] are unsparing in their portrait of the Black and Tans, and the ruthless violence that the Republicans visit on Britain's forces."
Set in 1916 in Ireland, THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY is the story of Damien (Cillain Murphy), a young Irishman about to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a doctor. When his friend is brutally murdered for standing up to a band of British soldiers, Damien abandons his medical career and joins his brother Teddy (Padraic Delany) in the fight for freedom. Small guerrilla groups of Irish farmers begin to wage bloody attacks, forcing the government to negotiate a ceasefire. The Anglo-Irish Peace Treaty is offered, but it puts Teddy and Damien at odds. Teddy believes they should accept the treaty and try to work within the system to avoid further bloodshed, while Damien thinks they should continue to fight until they are completely free of British rule. Whereas the two brothers used to fight side by side, they now find themselves divided, and forced to choose between their familial bond and their ardent beliefs.
Murphy and Delany both give standout performances as the battling brothers. Murphy flashes his otherworldly blue eyes and conveys his character's fierce intellect, as well as the deep sadness of his struggle. Delany, for his part, tries to come off as all brawn and bravery, but cannot conceal his sensitive heart--his face glows with rage one minute, then crumples into sorrow the next. Director Ken Loach, who won the Palme d'Or for the film, has created a deeply personal war story, with an attention to detail that is heartbreaking in its realism. The sight of the young men training for battle with hurley bats instead of rifles will make the viewer gasp at the disparity between the warring sides. While some might flinch at the graphic violence depicted, the film stands strong as a raw, human portrait of a deeply troubled moment in history.