Staff Pick

by | Mar 24, 2021 | 0 comments

Benediction (2021)

Biographic pictures now adays take on rather unoriginal structures, choosing to tell a cradle to grave story, or to simply focus on one impactful moment on their subject’s life. We’ve had some filmmakers attempt something new, such as Dexter Fletcher with Rocketman (2019), but they’ve been to rare a sight. That’s until Benediction (2021) Terence Davies’ new film about British poet Siegfried Sassoon.

Benediction starts with Siegfried Sassoon (Jack Lowden) out of World War I, where he would take the majority of his inspiration for his profound existential poetry. We follow him as a queer writer, as he navigates the world in a both eloquent and closeted manner.

Davies takes on a fluid approach to this biopic, traveling in time as he sees fit, and intercutting sequences with a slideshow of WWI pictures with a voiceover of Lowden reading some of Sassoon’s impactful poems. This, along with a intellectually stimulating dialogue that feels like dropping on a graduate literature course, helps illustrate the true genius behind Sassoon’s figure. Davies also doesn’t fall into the trope of having Sassoon’s homosexuality define him as a “gay poet” it rather informs us to his personal quarrels, but doesn’t impact the his stature as a great poet. 

Lowden, who’s been slowly creeping up on audiences with his spectacular work in films such as Dunkirk (2017) and series such as Slow Horses (2022-) is magnificient to behold as Sassoon. He brings an absolute dominance to his material so that you feel that every inch of an emotion has been meticulously researched and crafted. Lowden never falls into the cliche of playing his character as though he knows the place history holds for him, but rather as an complicated and conflicted man. 

In the end, Benediction is a love letter to poets and literature lovers everywhere, with its particular attention to language and a fluid narrative structure that will make modernist admirers proud. 

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