A sumptuous and tender portrait from revered filmmaker Terence Davies (A Quiet Passion), Benediction explores the turbulent life of 20th-century English poet and soldier Siegfried Sassoon.
Starring Jack Lowden (Dunkirk) and Peter Capaldi (Doctor Who) as the younger and older Sassoon respectively, Sassoon’s experience of the First World War on the Western Front is crafted in layers of heroism, loss, and unfathomable trauma, which inspired his poetry depicting its horrors. His attempt at conscientious objection to the war leads to him being committed to a Scottish hospital, where he meets and mentors fellow poet and soldier Wilfred Owen.
Davies’ first film about an openly gay man employs a collage-style narrative that intercuts dramatic scenes of key moments in Sassoon’s life – his relationships with Ivor Novello and the aristocrat Stephen Tennant, as well as his later marriage to a woman – with beautiful readings of his poetry over montages of real images of soldiers in wartime.
A moving tribute to a troubled man, searching for peace and self-acceptance, Benediction is an elegant work that reflects on British queer histories.