Journey’s End

Certificate 12A

(2017) 107 mins

Director: Saul Dibb
Writers: Simon Reade from the novel and play by R C Sherriff
Cinematography: Laurie Rose
Production Design: Kristian Milsted
Hildur Gudnadóttir, Natalie Holt


The tale takes place in the spring of 1918 near St. Quentin, France. The war has already dragged out for nearly four years, with millions killed; it will grind on for more than a half-year longer, snuffing out countless lives as it does. The film escorts us into the battle zone following fresh-faced teenaged Second Lieutenant Raleigh (Asa Butterfield), who could have done his service in a safer place but instead has gone to some trouble to get assigned to the command of Captain Stanhope (Sam Claflin). Before the war, Stanhope was a senior boy at Raleigh’s school and enamoured of his sister; the three spent happy holidays together.  But the Stanhope Raleigh encounters is a stiff and troubled officer and hardcore alcoholic…  Also starring Paul Bettany and Toby Jones.

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For the 100th anniversary of the first world war’s end, here is an unassumingly excellent new film version of RC Sherriff’s classic 1928 stage play, adapted by Simon Reade and directed by Saul Dibb. It is expertly cast and really well acted: forthright, powerful, heartfelt. The dramatic action is opened out, while always conveying the essential, cramped claustrophobia of this tragic ordeal. Cinematographer Laurie Rose’s coolly observant, dynamic camerawork helps drive the dramatic momentum and the sinuous musical score by Hildur Guðnadóttir and Natalie Holt creates a growing sense of horror and dread.”  The Guardian

Journey’s End brings out the very best in its trio of leads. Butterfield is heartbreaking as the blank page on which this tragedy is written, while Bettany brings much needed warmth to the bitter chill of the frontline trenches. But the film belongs to Claflin. Best known as prettyboy decoration in such hits as The Hunger Games, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Me Before You, the actor is a revelation here, catching every nuance as disillusion eats away at Stanhope’s once profound humanity.”  Rolling Stone

Dibbs does a fine job bringing a nuanced, realistic visual style to this venerable tale of war’s cruel and colossal wastes, and his actors are all first-rate, with Bettany a special stand-out.”  Roger Ebert

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