Benediction (2022)

  • Biography, Drama, War
  • 2h 17m

From 1995’s Neon Bible onwards, British filmmaker Terence Davies’ subject matter has become less autobiographical and more overtly literary. Adaptations of Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth, Terence Rattigan’s The Deep Blue Sea, and Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s Sunset Song lead up to two films about poets, A Quiet Passion, and now Benediction, a biopic about Siegfried Sassoon.

Benediction begins in 1914 with the poet going off to war, but the narrative moves back and forth between the adventures of young Sassoon (played brilliantly by Jack Lowdon) as he protests the war, befriends Wilfred Owen, and engages in sexual relationships with Bright Young Things like Ivor Novello and Stephen Tennant, and the late 1950s when an older Sassoon (a suitably sour Peter Capaldi) converts to Catholicism and looks back on his life.

On paper, making a second consecutive film about a poet might sound like treading water, but this is resolutely not the case. Benediction builds on the finest aspects of A Quiet Passion, but on closer inspection it is far more personal. Sassoon’s story, one of trauma, repressed homosexuality, Catholicism, and poetry, could be Davies’s own. And the film’s fragmented narrative and time jumps hark back to the audacity and originality of his earlier autobiographical films. In short, do not expect a straight-forward biopic, but do expect to be challenged, entertained, and moved by a great filmmaker’s best work in two decades.

Why you should see Benediction – read more from Dr Brian Hoyle


Terence Davies









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