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Films // Coming up // Journey's End
Dir. Saul Dibb | UK 2017 | 107 min | cert 12A
Men await an attack in the trenches of the First World War in this outstanding, intensely claustrophobic adaption of R C Sherriff’s 1928 play. Monday, 18 March 1918. C Company, led by Captain Stanhope (Sam Claflin) is about to take its posting on the front line. Intelligence suggests an imminent German attack and having been all but abandoned by the Commanding Officers, Stanhope knows there is little chance of survival. Trench supplies and munitions are depleted, as is the troop’s morale. In these appalling conditions, each man’s character is laid bare. An adroit cast offer performances of great depth and texture, from Paul Bettany’s Osborne, the very definition of the English ‘stiff upper lip’, to Claflin’s Stanhope, whose own shredded nerves are steeled with alcohol. But the shattered heart of the film is Asa Butterfield as Raleigh – the tender new recruit who ardently requested a placement in order to be close to Stanhope, his sister’s fiancé. Saul Dibb’s taut, confident direction is dread-inducing from the start – set in the cramped, stifling spaces of the trenches, foregrounding the tense personal dramas in Simon Reade’s lean screenplay. Journey’s End brings a fresh and powerful sense of this terrible war’s cost to a generation.