1917 ★★★★

Impossible to talk about this film without mentioning its one shot format. In terms of creating an ever-engaging experience, it succeeds admirably, with a very clearly thought out progression and slow build of tension, and some legitimately jaw-droppingly rendered moments. That said, if the goal of the film is to be placed in the shoes of these soldiers, it only partly succeeds. Mendes moves his camera seemingly with the guiding principle of "let's make sure the audience doesn't get bored and we see cool stuff," which is fine and works for the most part, but it doesn't quite give that experiential perspective. Still, the movements are smooth and engrossing, pulling you into the harrowing mission. More problematic is its treatment of its main characters. The vaguely blank slate nature isn't a problem in and of itself, but in general the film just doesn't provide a lot of depth to the story, and the characters seem like an obvious place to build more layers, given the nature of the film's intimate approach.

All that said, this is a staggeringly riveting film. One must admit that on the whole this is a bit of a case of style over substance, but as is often the case that's not a fatal flaw. When the style is this thrilling, when you have masters at play like Deakins and Thomas Newman, and when you have actors giving it their everything like George MacKay, you're going to get swept up in the emotion of it all. Ultimately the film's cinematic power is undeniable. 

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