1917 ★★★★½

Sam Mendes’ compelling war drama, 1917, is an unsparing technical achievement that will be discussed at length for years to come.

With war looming in the back of our minds today, a story like 1917’s is an important one to tell. A film that not only explores the horrors of war, but dives into the humanity of it is something rare in the genre nowadays. The “war film” is a genre that has felt so one-note of the years and it’s refreshing to watch one that grips you in the ways Coppola and Malick did in their respective war films. Those filmmakers brought humanity to war and crafted multi-faceted soldiers that we could emphasize with. Mendes incorporates that into his own film, putting the focus on Lance Corporal Schofield—played brilliantly by George McKay—a young man ravaged by a war he doesn’t fully believe in. With the lone wolf perspective, Mendes is able to find intimacy in a grand war that never quits, allowing the audience to fully connect with Schofield and his stressful adventures through enemy territory. Mendes not only grips audience’s with his masterful filmmaking, but also hooks us on the sheer tenacity of the soldiers whom we experience the harshness of war with. The audience is by their side every step of the way. We feel the pain from every injury, the heartbreak from every loss, the fear evoked from every gunshot; it’s a collective experience that’s only elevated by Mendes’ purposeful use of one continuous take. A decision that some may view as gimmicky, but personally, it makes the film a wildly immersive journey through a war zone; fully enveloping you in the physical and emotional drain of the solider life. You’re apart of this journey at all times, clenching your fists and sweating bullets along with these soldiers. It’s anxiety-inducing in the best way possible. Further, no film I’ve seen has possessed such a pensive portrayal of war quite like this film. The devastation of loss and the death-defying horror of war will linger in your mind days after seeing it. The result being an emotionally-draining and hauntingly-beautiful film reflecting on the futility and distress of war.

With 1917, audiences will be transported directly into the grimy trenches of Northern France where you’ll experience two straight hours of stress and heartbreak; exhausting audiences like never before. It’s a film that should be experienced on the biggest screen possible with the loudest sound possible. It’s Sam Mendes, Roger Deakins and Thomas Newman at their finest. A truly awe-inspiring theatrical experience for the ages.

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