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 poems in voiceover, and the story opens in 1914 with ‘Concert Interpretation’ – Lowden reads beautifully – as Britain stands on the brink of war yet is still innocent (‘.