6th October 2017 6.00pm at Odeon Leicester Square
7th October 2017 11.00am at Odeon Leicester Square
14th October 2017 1.00pm at Ciné Lumière
A screen adaptation of a classic play by the same name, Saul Dibb’s Journey’s End is fairly true to earlier productions of both theatre and film in terms of dialogue and tone, except that this version is more realistic.
A close-up look at the intense pressures of combat in the trenches, the movie focuses on a group of soldiers during WWI. About the The British Army C Company, based in Northern France in 1918 – who are fighting a seemingly endless war – the picture is an unsettling exploration of pressures in a claustrophobic environment where death continuously threatens.
Every infantry squadron was required to spend six days a month on the battlefield, and the film’s timeline consists of four days at the front in a foxhole. The setting is a form of limbo – grim, murky, filthy and miserable – and the mood is one of restlessness, tension and despair.
Character interactions are key in this work, a strong dynamic upon which the narrative depends. A naïve young recruit, Second Lieutenant Raleigh (Asa Butterfield), has romantic illusions about war, describing it as “frightfully exciting”. His baby face and childlike enthusiasm might evoke sadness in the viewer, as the wide-eyed newcomer does not know the inevitable grim reality that awaits him. His school friend Captain Stanhope (Sam Claflin) – in contrast to Raleigh – is a tragic example of what happens to youthful innocence in conflict; although well respected, he suffers from shell shock and is a morose, defeated alcoholic. Lieutenant Osborne (Paul Bettany), also new to the group, is a benevolent intellectual type who provides a fatherly comfort to the others. Their cook Mason (Toby Jones) is thoughtful and positive-minded, helping to uplift grieved spirits.
Despite being presented from a perspective of British stoicism, the trauma of combat on impressionable young infantrymen and the effect thereof – the sheer terror, demoralisation, psychological stress and shattering of spirits – are palpable and well portrayed. With an exceptional cast, the acting is superb in this movie and with excellent writing, the actors deliver nuanced, subtle and moving performances.
A microcosm of a very harsh war, each soldier in this trench in France represents every man caught up in the horror of battle. A memorial to human bravery within the injustice of warfare, Journey’s End is a remarkably intriguing, poignant, well-conceived film.
Journey’s End is released nationwide on 2nd February 2018.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2017 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for Journey’s End here: