Journey's End - This Movie Solemnly Rocks
Dir: Saul Dibb
Starring Sam Claflin, Asa Butterfield, Paul Bettany, Toby Jones, Stephen Graham, Tom Sturridge, Miles Jupp, Robert Glenister
RC Sherriff’s Journey’s End has been a play, a novel, and a film by James Whale. So it is to latest director Saul Dibb’s credit that he finds something new to say here, and a new way of saying it. And it is to the credit of his uniformly powerful cast that it is said so well.
Set in the British side of the trenches in the dying days of WWI, the story focuses on the by now somewhat lost and alcoholic Captain Stanhope (a superb Claflin) a man who is by no means the man once idolised by innocent Raleigh (Butterfield) who has transferred to the front line to stand shoulder to should with Stanhope, the man who courted his sister before the war. Their company’s rotation demands six days at the font –a six day tour that will prove to be the last days of just about all those involved.
At its most basic, Dibb’s film is about men forced to face up to the notion of “going over the top” knowing there is no way back. But as skilfully played as it is by this cast, it become a much more redolent thing than that. The always reliable Toby Jones brings what little humour can be brought to such a situation, whilst Paul Bettany once again proves that if you want someone by your side bearing the epithet “supporting actor” then there is none more supporting. Indeed, a scene between him and Butterfield as they brace themselves and each other for their first move into no man’s land is the film’s highlight.
But Dibb builds on that, getting great work from the nearly - dissolute Claflin and – again – fine support from the likes of Graham and Sturridge. (A slightly uncertain turn from Glenister who comes far to close to Stephen Fry’s General Melchett is misjudged – but can be quickly forgiven.)
Journey’s End is an old tale but one that is well re-told and made all the more powerful for it. Splendidly played all round.
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