The Old Oak

Director: Kenneth Loach
Year Released: 2023
Rating: 1.5

Syrian immigrants show up in North London and the residents have an absolute fit, but after lonely pub landlord TJ (Dave Turner) starts an unlikely friendship with refugee photographer Yara (Ebla Mari), he tries using his run-down establishment to "connect the communities" ... except in doing so he alienates his long-time patrons and someone sabotages the place.  Although I think he has the best intentions, for Loach's final feature he unfortunately turns to an easy Liberal Guilt story (with the script by frequent collaborator Paul Laverty) in which bigots consistently pop up to shout slurs, act intimidating and even physically assault the "foreigners," and then to really double down it relies on several deaths (including Yara's father and TJ's pup Marra) to try to make it "poignant."  Some filmmakers are quite adept at working with non-professionals in acting roles, but the cast here isn't ideal, and the clunky dialogue doesn't help matters much.  What, is there nothing else for the lads to discuss while downing pints?  Surely everyone's favorite football club is undefeated, right?