GT takes a look at the latest independent war flick…
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Tommo Peaceful (George Mackay) and his slightly older, slightly hotter brother Charlie (Jack O'Connell) battle on the home front and abroad in this period war movie.
Adapted from the novel of the same name, this independent Brit-flick is anything but peaceful. In fact, it's positively disturbing in places, with childhood canings and, later, war scenes with bodies tossed about with gay abandon. Director Pat O'Connor also throws in a head-fuck love triangle between Tommo, Charlie and the gutsy Molly Monks (Alexandra Roach), recreating everyday conflict with striking plausibility.
We are introduced to young Private Tommo Peaceful in a cell, where he awaits the morning while looking back on his life. He has been court-martialled for disobeying an order to continue with an attack while in battle on Flanders Field. The narration is reflective and reminiscent of the award-winning Dancing at Lughnasa (an earlier O'Connor film).
The action jumps from Tommo and his brother’s school days and playground taunts to the fields of 1908 Devon, where the bullies are bigger and badder, like the lecherous, power-obsessed Colonel (Richard Griffiths), for example. Charlie is caring and attractive without knowing it, and charmingly protective of his brother. Yes, he'll have you swooning alright. The two strong boys end up on the battlefield together, where they confront the tyrannical Sergeant Hanley (John Lynch). There are funny moments too - just watch out for the sheep scene.
As you’d expect with an Indie production, plot triumphs over complicated special effects. Also, the use of lesser-known actors means the script is never overpowered, though keep an eye out for telly’s Maxine Peake, who makes a much welcome appearance. These factors combined, along with intricate period detail and carefully crafted touches (such as the sepia tint during war scenes), belie the modest budget and make the film worth a watch.
Private Peaceful is out tomorrow, 12 October.
Words Jane Playdon.