Tagline: Love is never still
Genre: War, Drama, History
Director: Terence Davies
Cast: Jack Lowden, Peter Capaldi, Simon Russell Beale, Jeremy Irvine, Calam Lynch, Tom Blyth, Kate Phillips, Geraldine James, Gemma Jones, Ben Daniels, Edmund Kingsley, Harry Lawtey, Anton Lesser, Lia Williams, Suzanne Bertish, Jude Akuwudike, Joanna Bacon, Stacey Lynn Crowe, Thom Ashley, Jamie-Lee Beacher, Paddy Rowan, Matthew Tennyson, David Shields, Julian Sands, Edward Bennett, Richard Goulding
Runtime: 137Plot: The story of soldier and poet Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967), who was decorated for bravery on the Western Front, and is best remembered for his angry and compassionate poems about the First World War, which brought him public and critical acclaim. Avoiding the sentimentality and jingoism of many war poets, Sassoon wrote of the horror and brutality of trench warfare and contemptuously satirised generals, politicians, and churchmen for their incompetence and blind support of the war.
Sassoon, as extremely well played by Jack Lowden, confesses that he can never act spontaneously. His stubbornness gives way to a debilitating inwardness. He is a man literally haunted by war. Whatever his achievements in his career or fleeting happiness in his liaisons, they never seem to give him true joy.
Director Davies, too, is a man of the past (he was a teen living in 60s Liverpool and despises The Beatles!). As always, he gives the material a small “c” classical point of view. BENEDICTION is an elegantly made production with suitably austere photography by Nicola Daley and is scored with existing appropriate period music. Davies' script is very much in the tradition of mid-century British theater with no shortage of witty barbs. While far too stylish to be dismissed as being too 'Masterpiece Theater', there is a certain airlessness to parts of the film. The flash-forwards to the 60s give the story some overall context, but, never truly trandscends (Peter Capaldi plays the older Sassoon).
Lowden is indeed superb here, and does as much with his face and body as he does with the dialogue - never more so than in the final scene. The supporting cast is also fine including Julian Sands, Kate Phillips, Simon Russell Beale, Geraldine James and Jeremy Irvine as a particularly oily lover. BENEDICTION is a well appointed if a bit dry entry in Davies' fine filmography.
BENEDICTION is avalable as a streaming rental and it's on Hoopla (FREE with a library card). It's also on DVD.