From his controversial anti-war publications and poetry, through to his later years as an embittered convert to Catholicism, Davies’ depiction of Sassoon is uncompromisingly melancholic.
Themes of self-worth and self-acceptance are explored with rising cynicism as Sassoon engages in, and is devastated by, affairs with contemporary star Ivor Novello (Jeremy Irvine, War Horse) and decadent aristocrat Stephen Tennant (Calam Lynch, Dunkirk).
Archival footage of WWI is used to extraordinary effect within the film, too, paying artful tribute to the lives lost in war, while exploring the pronounced impact of survivors’ guilt.
Davies has proven himself a master of the biographical drama after 2016’s A Quiet Passion, following the life of American poet Emily Dickinson, was lauded by The Independent as a ‘masterpiece of mood.’
Benediction sees him turn his hand once more to both writing and directing in a genre he excels at, delivering a fittingly poetic, complex portrait of Sassoon, remarkably embodied in towering turns by both Lowden and Capaldi.