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This film is set during 1916 (First World War), in the Somme Valley, Northern France. The story of the film follows the two days prior to the Battle of the Somme, which was the most severe defeat that the British Army has ever had. The film is well made, although it is not an action, war film. The film depicts how the mood of the men in the British Army, stationed in the trenches, changes between boredom, fear, anticipation and anger as they wait day after day for the battle to commence. There is a lot of swearing in the film, and some gory shots, so this is not a film for younger or delicate viewers. The main characters of the film are Billy McFarlane (played by Paul Nicholls), his brother Eddie McFarlane (played by Tam Williams), Sergeant Telford Winter (played by Daniel Craig) and Lieutenant Ellis Harrte (played by Julian Rhind-Tutt). The interaction between these characters is well depicted and the acting is excellent. Where I feel that the film fails a bit is in the actual environment of the trenches. Everything is very clean and dry, the men are all clean shaven, they all seem well fed and overall living conditions do not seem bad at all. However, I do not believe that was at all how conditions were. Ever other account of life in the trenches seems to tell of filth, illness and hunger. I suppose by ignoring these conditions it does allow the film to concentrate on the thoughts of the men and the relationships between them, which it does really well. To fully appreciate the film it is best if you know a little about the battle, as at times it is assumed that you realise the implications of an event. I found that I was often having to explain to our youngest son why something had happened, or what this would mean later. Don’t wait for a great big battle scene, because the start of the battle is the end of the film. Although this is an interesting and well made film, it is not one that
I would rush to see again.