Wafflez’s review published on Letterboxd:
It’s not you 1917, it’s me. (Most Likely)
There is certainly so much to appreciate. From that fantastic sound design to that gorgeous cinematography. The way 1917 paints World War 1 is filled with haunting beauty yet with hints of something ominous lurking in the distance. Every gunshot, the ruined architecture, flares going off in the distance, you can’t helped but to be immersed in this world Sam Mendes has made.
Why then. Something this gorgeous should be able to win me over fairly easily. Why couldn’t I be swayed as easily to be convinced by its overall beauty.
Perhaps it’s because I wanted to see more from our protagonists. Of course they were naturalistic in terms of performance but they just seemed to just be there...just there. No development at all. Especially from a film meant to be “warm” and “humane” the lack of character development kinds of puts me off. Maybe I kind of see Dunkirk’s lack of development as well but that didn’t bother me as much as it wasn’t really about the people but more of the heat of the moment in war kind of thing. Look at Come and See or The Human Condition Trilogy, the most or one of the most fascinating things is that we get to see our characters grow as people, we see them develop for the better or worse. From Florya’s loss of innocence to Kaji’s pacifist ideals being challenged, you see them grow but in 1917, I look at the characters and just realise I can’t seem to care for them at all, they feel too blank to me.
With that out of the way, the plot just feels like so many other war films plots if you think about it, just that it’s hidden behind a wall of grandeur. It focuses so much on style over substance that it never really captured me or immersed me in this world created. It just feels too generic for my taste. And sometimes, it dragged a bit.
For a film meant to be humane, I honestly felt empty by the end of it. The tension and stress of it all has faded away almost instantly when the credits began to roll. I just feel so disappointed but I can definitely get the hype around it. If you love it, that’s great and I’m glad you love it. I Guess I won’t be jumping on the 1917 hype train but that’s ok, for there could be a next time.