1917 (2019)

dir. Sam Mendes. Presented as one continuous take. First World War, Northern France, two British soldiers are dispatched on a dangerous mission to deliver orders to stop a planned attack, which would result in up to 1,600 soldiers being killed in a trap. Technically very clever, although I don’t understand what the continuous take does to improve the story, or build tension, especially when there are several moments that make it obvious that there is a break in shooting. The two main actors give a subtle naturalistic performance, but it’s not really an actors film, for the most part I was just admiring the landscape and the detail of the sets. There are a couple of exceptions, a wonderful moment in the basement of a bombed out building, and the finale which manages to merge the technical brilliance, with some surprising moments of humanity. Another strong moment is the banter between the two soldiers about the importance of military medals and honours, which has some of the best dialogue in the film. Sam Mendes best film since ROAD TO PERDITION (2002) perhaps? Are the reflections of the falling flares an homage to Tarkovsky’s IVAN’S CHILDHOOD (1962)?

By Nicholas Hudson-Ellis

Co-Founder & Film Programs Manager of Bangkok Screening Room.

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