Owen Gleiberman Chief Film Critic Tommy Joe Ballantyne (Dave Turner), the central character in Ken Loach’s “The Old Oak,” is a middle-aged landlord and proprietor of a pub that sits near the bottom of a sloped street of working-class row houses.
We’re in an unnamed village in the northeast of England, and the pub, called the Old Oak, has seen better days. So has Tommy, who’s known as TJ.
Dave Turner, the very good actor who plays him, resembles a bone-weary cross between John C. Reilly and Michael Moore. There’s a sweet-souled directness to his sad prole stare, and he treats his customers, some of whom he has known since they were in grade school together, with quiet affection and respect.
But the pub is falling apart, and the property values in the neighborhood have plunged. TJ is barely scraping by serving pints of bitters.Read more on variety.com