Film review: Journey’s End (4 out of 5)

Journey's End
Journey's End

The remarkable fact about RC Sherriff’s First World War play Journey’s End is that is was written in 1928, so when it appeared quite a few of the male audience will have fought in the Great War.

Fast forward to the present day and it’s exactly 100 years after the events depicted in Sherriff’s work.

And to give the man credit, the emotions shown in that play, albeit now expanded to the big screen, are just as raw and shocking.

It’s early 1918 and we are in the British trenches waiting for the expected German offensive.

A young lieutenant Raleigh (Asa Butterfield) has asked to join his old school acquaintance Captain Stanhope’s unit.

In fact Stanhope (Sam Claflin) was going out with Raleigh’s sister before the conflict.

But three years coping with the horrors of war have left Stanhope an alcoholic and an aggressive commander.

His only friend is the kindly Osborne (Paul Bettany), a fellow officer.

Claflin (possibly best known for his Hunger Games appearances) is quite frankly superb as the man driven to the very edge by forces outside his control, forced to make orders he knows are wrong and send men to their death.

Bettany (Vision in Avengers) is also excellent and Butterfield is growing into an impressive actor.

Add the ever reliable Toby Jones as Mason and Stephen Graham as Trotter and you have a pretty impressive cast.

Director Saul Dibb may be a new name to me but he gets the feel of the trenches just right - basically mud and claustrophobia.

As we head towards commemorating 100 years of the end of the First World War this is a fitting reminder of the terrible conditions and loss experienced by all nations involved in that conflict.

Film details: Journey’s End (12A) 107mins

Director: Saul Dibb

Starring: Paul Bettany, Sam Claflin, Asa Butterfield

Screening courtesy of Horsham Capitol