Our Showroom Spotlight series reviews low budget and arthouse films currently playing at Sheffield’s Showroom Cinema.
March, 1918. A group of British soldiers are preparing for an imminent German attack in the trenches of Northern France. Among them is Raleigh, a young man fresh out of training who begs his general for a chance on the front lines. Soon after joining C Company (led by his old friend Captain Stanhope), he discovers the true and ugly face of war.
Originally based on the R.C. Sheriff’s play, Journey’s End does not depict excessive violence and explosions but instead captures the anticipation and aftermath of battle. For much of the movie the action is enclosed in the dugout, giving it a claustrophobic feeling. A variety of reactions to the German threat are displayed, ranging from attempted escape to acceptance of death.
The film is not just about war, it also tackles life and human relationships. It depicts how those on the front lines suffer from homesickness, hope for return, while inevitably marching closer and closer to death. Viewers identify with certain characters along the way, something the movie does extremely well. The personalities of the main characters succeed in conveying a pained camaraderie in frightening conditions.
Unfortunately, the suspense doesn’t last the runtime. The audience is made to feel like they are waiting for action, but when it finally comes the sequences are hectic and confusing. They do however represent the unnecessary and grim slaughter which killed millions over the course of World War One. Luckily, the character work is strong enough to prevent this being a debilitating flaw.
Despite being a modern remake, Journey’s End is truthful and remains rooted in reality. It is not a glossy experience, with trench warfare accurately represented as dirty and unnerving. The soldiers experience difficulties with depression and anxiety which are well portrayed. Overall, it is well worth watching – as long as any comparisons with Saving Private Ryan are left at the door.