Hidden Agenda (1991)

The killing of an American activist by the police in Northern Ireland reveals a high-reaching political conspiracy in Ken Loach’s thriller.

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“Whatever one thinks of the political line on offer, there's plenty of evidence of Loach's undiminished power as a film-maker, and equally ample evidence that something is very rotten in the state of Northern Ireland.”
Time Out Film Guide, 1990

In Hidden Agenda, the winner of the Grand Jury prize at Cannes, Ken Loach takes his political concerns into the thriller genre. When an American civil rights activist (Brad Dourif) is killed in Northern Ireland, the investigation into his death gradually reveals a conspiracy that reaches the top levels of government.

Unusually for Loach, the cast features well-known actors, including Frances McDormand and Brian Cox. The film was inspired by The Stalker Inquiry, in which John Stalker (clearly an influence on Cox’s character) investigated the deaths of suspected members of the IRA before being removed from the case under suspicious circumstances. Although less improvised than many of Loach’s films, one dramatic scene, in which a character is kidnapped on the streets of Dublin, was filmed with passers-by unaware a film was being shot.

Ken Loach returned to The Troubles in his Palme d’Or winning The Wind That Shakes the Barley (2006), about two brothers who join the Irish Republican Army.

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