This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Katy Rochelle’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
A film centered on one long tracking shot from one trench to another sounds like a perfect way to capture a soldier's experience during war. How or why nobody has attempted it before is clear from the start - 1917 is a technical masterpiece. Shuffling seamlessly from George's performance to the endless blocks of action and balancing pauses for Schofield's mission to slow down, the film lays out so many moving pieces, it never looks or feels like any effort was put into the production at all - which we all know isn't true.
However, as stunning as the production is, I struggled to feel as many tugs of emotion as others have had. A key part of the film 'lacking' for me is not being able to connect with the inciting incident (to get to the other trench in under 24 hours) for all of the plot's tension. It's a marvel to watch Blake and Schofield maneuver from one place to the other, but the action fails to bridge the gap between creating genuine tension of what could slow them down and coincidental obstacles that pop up to keep the action moving. It's not that the film is boring, but at times the tracking shot is more of a gimmick and lacked genuine stakes (the dug-out being blown up and Schofield barely making it to the Devonshire Regiment before the waves were sent out) or emotional engagement (Schofield's interaction with Lauri and finding Blake's brother). Cinematography, stunts, and production design set aside, I felt self-removed from the whole story, stuck like I was playing Call of Duty or questioning what the behind-the-scenes process was.