Saturday, January 7, 2012


Wartime drama

Jeremy Irvine: Albert Narracott
Emily Watson: his mother Rose
Peter Mullan: his tenant farmer father Ted
David Thewlis: their landlord Mr. Lyons
Tom Hiddleston: Captain Nicholls
Celine Buckens: an orphaned young French girl Emilie
Niels Arestrup: her grandfather

Set before the beginning of the First World War this is the story of a boy and his horse.

While the film includes scenes of war, there is no bloodshed. Men get knocked down or fall from being hit by bullets but there is no gory aftermath. Even in the army field hospital we get to visit it only after all the soldiers have been bandaged up and there’s not a drop of blood to be seen anywhere. And as far as suffering goes, well there isn’t any. Realistic? No. Easy to take? Yes.

Production values are first rate, the sets just right, the battle scenes beautifully staged and the costumes are perfect (maybe too perfect as they look like they just came from the dry cleaners) which lends to its look of authenticity. The acting is strictly "by the book" so it will garner no awards for anyone.

However the main problem with the movie is this: it is overlong at almost two-and-a-half hours. There simply is not enough story to run for that length of time so most everything proceeds at a snail’s pace (the battles scenes being the exception) as though the director is trying to wring out every precious moment to its max.

One final thought: as I was walking out I overhead one member of the audience say to her friend “I should have brought a whole box of Kleenex”.

for intense sequences of war violence.

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