A northern pub landlord confronts locals’ hostility towards Syrian immigrants in Loach’s latest – and possibly last – piece of politically trenchant cinema.
The Old Oak is the name of his pub, the one community meeting place in a deprived north-eastern former mining town – and it is in dire need of refurbishment. His regulars are seething with rage, livid at the collapse in house prices and brooding over YouTube videos about immigrants. Then a busload of terrified Syrians arrives and the tension gets worse. Rather than show you what solidarity looks like, Loach lets you in on what it feels like. The result is one of his most moving films, a presentation of the world not as Loach thinks it should be, but as it might and can become.