Romantic comedies are one of my obsessions. Not the whole Lifetime Christmas ones, which is five different stories told countless times. Another one of my movie obsessions are war films. 1917 was a film that I wanted to see since I saw the first trailer for it. Knowing that Sam Mendes is behind it, there was a belief that it was going to be good and beautiful. Both of which were correct assumptions.
The plot is simple:
April 6th 1917. As a regiment assembles to wage war deep in enemy territory, two soldiers are assigned to race against time and deliver a message, that will stop 1,600 men, from walking straight into a deadly trap.
Lance Corporal Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman) is selected for the mission. Without knowing the mission, he selects his buddy, Lance Corporal Schofield (George MacKay), to accompany him. The film begins to take us on a single-take journey to stop the ambush from happening. Blake is selected because his brother is part of the men that will be killed.
Mendes does a terrific job balancing the white-knuckle tension of the journey and capturing the beautiful landscape of the country-side. His use of shadows and flares distracts you enough to admire the beauty of the cinematography by Roger Deakins. The use of the single-shot is powerful. It allows the audience to see the film from the viewpoint of the characters and how things can change in an instant. Don’t believe me? Just watch that sneak across “no man’s land”.
Many of the big star cameos are left as ranking officers in the film. Colin Firth plays a general, while Andrew Scott (Sherlock, Fleabag) is a foul-mouth lieutenant. Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Richard Madden play some other major characters with minor parts.
There is not a whole lot you can get into without giving away any spoilers. The film is not as washed out as you see in films like Saving Private Ryan, but it does allow for some brilliant color. If you don’t like movies where you are kind of on the edge of your seat, this may not be the movie for you. The different nuances of the film work together like a beautiful score. Recommended for the big screen.
Rating: 4 stars.