Siegfried sassoon

Quietly devastating: Benediction reviewed

Terence Davies’s Benediction is a biopic of the first world war poet Siegfried Sassoon told with great feeling and tenderness. The result is quietly powerful, quietly devastating and, happily, is not afflicted by the usual clichés that afflict this genre. Sassoon never, for example, crumples what he’s just written and throws it across the room. For this we must be grateful, and are. The film juggles two timelines, with the young Siegfried played by Jack Lowden – once a rising star, it is probably now fair to say he has fully risen; he is wonderful here – and the old Siegfried played by Peter Capaldi. We only ever encounter the

The joy of the Great War memoir

Harley Granville-Barker, actor, director, playwright, manager and critic, was a pasha of the Edwardian London stage. As a director, his Midsummer Night’s Dream of 1914 was a theatrical landmark. His own plays were provocative and controversial. The Secret Life, for example, was an analysis of the torpor of the British ruling classes. Waste, involving a married woman’s lethal abortion, was suppressed by the Lord Chamberlain. In 1916, aged 38, at the peak of his celebrity, the great Harley Granville-Barker volunteered for a walk-on part on the Western Front as a Red Cross auxiliary. Last week I came across an account of his opening night in the trenches, as related to

My thrilling rendezvous with the sausage lady

One day last week we did a wine run up to Manosque in the foothills of the Alps, leaving early in the morning. Catriona drove, big Vernon squeezed into the back seat and made a nest for himself among a fortnight’s recycling rubbish. Along the road up to Manosque the almond trees were in blossom, and in the gardens yellow forsythia and mimosa. But last year’s dead leaves still clung about the naked branches of the forest. Manosque it was because we’re massive fans of a local red called La Blaque. But on the way we passed a Louis Latour wine outlet. Catriona likes their Viré-Clessé white so we stopped