Journey's End

R.C. Sherriff’s 1928 play Journey’s End was one of the most influential war dramas of its day—so influential that the material seems archetypal now. Set during the final months of World War I, it unfolds mainly in a British officers’ dugout on the French front; the characters include a fatherly lieutenant (Paul Bettany), an alcoholic captain (Sam Claflin), an idealistic new recruit (Asa Butterfield), and a timid cook (Toby Jones) who provides comic relief. All the major characters change in unsubtle ways, reflecting the transformative power of war, yet all preserve their humanity, and this gives the story its enduring poignancy. Director Saul Dibb doesn’t quite succeed in making the drama feel fresh, but this is a sensitive and handsomely performed adaptation.