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TIFF 2021: “Benediction”


Rating: 5 out of 5.

There are few filmmakers whose films can resonate with contemporary the audience. Terrence Malick, Pablo Larrain and Luca Guadagnino are some of them. No matter how complex the story is, they make you think and are often so intelligent, the viewer would feel as if they are going back to school. It’s just the language filmmakers use that is, quite frank, too advanced and comprehensive, and most writers don’t want to go that far.

“Benediction” is a love story perhaps, between the director and the film that so organically and flawlessly turns into a masterclass. It follows the 20th Century English poet Siegfried Sassoon through his memories as he navigates through love and loss, disagreement in regards to war, protests against the government and his love affair with men. The sharpness of the poet and the selection of words make the film the most intelligent premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Sassoon faces his own self, but an elder one, as he questions his motives, actions and life choices during the most difficult times.

Right from the start, the film shows it’s not made for the mainstream audience. It targets the most intelligent ones; the ones that know the value of language and its beauty if used appropriately. “Benediction” is one of the films that is hard to summarize. You either have to watch it or not read about it all. Because no film critic can deliver what Terence Davies, a master at work, envisioned – a cinematic craft of a genius filmmaker that can never create anything less than perfection.

The sublime performances from Jack Lowden and Peter Capaldi put them on a much higher level than they were before. Don’t get me wrong, they have always been great. But in this film, they embodied the characters they portray, giving the most honest and transparent portrayal of a man, who was a genius of his time.

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