You know a good war drama when the tension on screen has you holding your breath. So it is with The War Below.
From the war to end all wars, first time director J P Watts centres on the true story of the most unlikeliest of missions during July 1917 on the Western Front. With the lowest of confidence of success weighing heavily on their shoulders, a group of miners from Yorkshire are selected to carry out a daring plan to help break the stalemate at the Battle of Messines.
Recruited by army colonel “Hellfire Jack” Norton-Griffiths (Tom Goodman-Hill), the men are to tunnel underneath No Man’s Land in the hopes of setting off bombs from below the German lines.
Not deemed real soldiers and ridiculed by other infantrymen, the small team led by William Hawkins (Sam Hazeldine) face their own personal challenges on top of the threat from the enemy.
The strength of the film over similar ones, is its focus firmly centred on the characters and what drives them, inasmuch as what they contributed to the Allied effort. Hazeldine is exceptional as he executes his character’s sway of allegiances, from rock solid to just doing what’s right. The script is sparse and not overly dramatic.
The War Below makes its Australian premiere as part of the 2021 British Film Festival, now showing at participating Palace cinemas. Check your local guides for screening times.
About The War Below
Duration: 96 mins
Directed by J P Watts
Stars Sam Hazeldine, Tom Goodman-Hill, Kris Hitchen, Elliot James Langridge, Sam Clemmett