1917 (15) 119 Minutes
Departing from his work with 007, director Sir Sam Mendes is thrown back into the awards limelight with this war-time epic 1917.
Set in…well, take a guess… Lance Corporals Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) are tasked with delivering a letter to the 2nd Battalion Devonshire Regiment, calling off an attack on German troops in order to prevent a violent ambush.
We follow the two messengers from the muddy trenches, through the ruins of Northern France and into no man’s land at the Hindenburg Line.
The beauty of such a piece lies primarily with its visual style, aimed at making the film feel and look like one continuous shot with no cuts, gluing us to the two characters throughout their gruelling journey.
Naturally, as was the case with Birdman, the one-take style may not be what it seems, but Mendes and the fabulous cinematographer Roger Deakins certainly manage to pull it off.
The warfare and explosions that seem to chase these two soldiers along the way are magnificently designed, bringing that extra oomph to the ‘realism’ of it all. Everything is very meticulous and impressive in its production value.
As for performances, however, there’s not much to be said. So much concentration is put into the haunting ambiguity of what awaits across the misty French fields that the main performances seem irrelevant compared to the brutality of warfare around them.
Unfortunately, there’s a severe case of repetition here. Many are calling 1917 the best war film since Saving Private Ryan and Dunkirk, but it could be argued the film is incredibly like its loose predecessors in its visuals and singular storyline.
Well, it must be said, from start to finish, this really did feel like a second viewing of Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, especially with its grey-ish colour palette mixed with the atmospheric sound design of bombs rumbling through the clouds and gunfire loud enough to kick off another round of tinnitus.
Impressive, but hardly revolutionary.