Benediction. Very Quick Review.

One of the latest instances of British #filmtwitter getting behind films with otherwise limited commercial appeal is this unconventional biopic from director Terrence Davis. Jack Loudon and Peter Capaldi play older and younger versions of the renowned WWI anti-war poet Siegfried Sassoon. Starting in the period immediately following Sassoon’s psychiatric evaluation due to his anti-war stance the narrative flits in and out at various points during his life. We see Sassoon interact with various cultural figures from the time. He battles his faith as well as romantic and interpersonal demons. It is superbly performed especially by Loudon who can deliver both sterling renditions of Sassoon’s poetry over archive footage and powerful renditions of scripted dramatized segments. This is especially true in a very strong first act which hits the beats one might expect for these kinds of stories but does so in a way that offers an emotionally resonant window into the subject’s life. As things progress however the pacing becomes more sluggish and decidedly televisual. Somewhere between a great pound drama and a blatant play for BAFTA recognition. There’s enough core strength to suggest the film might still be worth a viewing if one is particularly interested in the subject matter. That said this will be filling a Sunday night slot on BBC Two in two to three years with a moderate amount of fanfare. The beating heart and central performances deserve more than a complete package that ultimately lets itself down.
6/10.

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