KSL MOVIE SHOW

KSL Movie Show review: ‘The Old Oak’ lays a roadmap for reconnecting communities

May 3, 2024, 11:00 AM | Updated: 11:47 am

'The Old Oak' might have a few f-bombs, but it's worth your time to see....

'The Old Oak' is timeless tale about finding community and country.

Editor’s note: This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.

SALT LAKE CITY — Traditions run deep in the small villages of Northern England that provide us the setting for “The Old Oak”. Each place had a hole in the ground where generations of miners worked and their families survived. All that started to slip away as one by one the mines closed over the past thirty years, leaving behind rows of empty houses and boarded-up businesses.

This is where we find County Durham, specifically “The Old Oak” which is the last pub in the area and the last gathering place for a community in a drastic change.

Syrian refugees are moving into the village. Housing is cheap and a good place for new beginnings, but some of the locals are not happy about this flood of immigrants. And they have no trouble expressing their anger to the point where tensions boil over when a bus filled with Syrians pulls up to the main street and things get ugly.

One young refugee, Yara (Ebla Mari), begins taking pictures of the people and their new surroundings. One townie takes exception and grabs her camera, there’s a struggle and the camera gets the worst of it. The lens is shattered but the rest is fixable.

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Boldly, she enters “The Old Oak,” demanding the young man pay for the damages. The kindly pub owner, Tommy Joe Ballantyne (Dave Turner) knows who the kid is, but knows he won’t lift a hand to fix it, so Tommy Joe, or T.J. as he’s known locally, agrees to take some of his grandfather’s old equipment to a photo shop in exchange for repairing the camera.

Yara and her family are so grateful for T.J.’s help, that they invite him over for dinner and thus the ice is broken. Now if others can see what he sees maybe there’s hope of conquering this cultural divide.

One of the first things you’ll notice in a Ken Loach-directed film is that he likes his scenes to be structured, but not over-produced. He allows his characters to free-flow their dialog, hoping for natural exchanges and genuine sentiments. He gets plenty of that here, as the natural conversations are lively and often crude, especially from the disgruntled.

Translation? Prepare for a barrage of f-bombs used as adjectives, nouns, verbs, etc. The point is — it’s just the way some of the locals speak and you’ll have to grin and bear it, or simply not go.

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One of the sayings on a backroom wall in The Old Oak states: “When You Eat Together, You Stick Together.” The only problem is the backroom is not up to code, has been shut down for public use for probably a couple of decades and T.J. has neither the inclination nor the funds to change that — until now.

He and Yara see this as a possible way to get the two sides to mingle over a nice meal. It won’t be easy and they’ll need a lot of help and donations, but maybe it’s worth a try.

I love that about this movie. If only we could figure out a way to reconnect our divisions in this country. Well, at least a boy can dream.

“The Old Oak” is not rated, but likely an R for language. Starring Dave Turner, Ebla Mari, Claire Rodgerson, Trevor Fox and Chris McGlade. Directed by Ken Loach (“I, Daniel Blake” “Sorry We Missed You”) – filmed in County Durham, England, UK. Running time: 113 minutes.

The KSL Movie Show with Andy Farnsworth and Steve Salles airs Fridays on KSL NewsRadio from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Follow the show on Facebook, and join The KSL Movie Show Club for exclusive perks by texting MOVIE to 57500.

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KSL Movie Show review: ‘The Old Oak’ lays a roadmap for reconnecting communities