Private Peaceful

Director: Pat O’Connor

Rating: 2.5/5

The tag line of this movie beautifully and succinctly describes the tumultuous relationship between Tommo (George Mackay) and Charlie (Jack O’Connell) Peaceful, two brothers living in a sleepy English town during World War I. Private Peaceful, an adaption of Michael Morpurgo’s novel of the same name, introduces us to the Peaceful brothers as two young boys intent on getting into mischief together. However, when a new girl arrives on the estate where the Peaceful family works, the boys’ relationship is put on edge. Both fall head-over-heels in love and thus begins a life-long love triangle (of sorts). Time passes, the war begins, and Tommo and Charlie are thrust into a world of blood, gore and fear in the trenches of Flander’s Fields.

This film isn’t afraid of shying away from the horrors of war. It covers gas and bomb attacks, issues between the ranks, desertion, cowardice, and, of course, death. The story, narrated by way of Tommo’s flashbacks from the war, gives a unique perspective on events. The winning aspect for me, however, was the beautiful relationship between the brothers. They fought and argued but when it came down to it – on the edge of no man’s land – the young men were not just boys dreaming of a girl, but united men fighting for their country and for freedom.

Unfortunately, while this movie could have been a real tearjerker, it simply wasn’t. The acting was sub-par in some crucial scenes where raw emotion was essential for the audience to be pulled in. Unrealistic calmness in the face of unemployment, war, and death, sets this movie back from what it could have been.

Nevertheless, Private Peaceful is an endearing movie that deserves recognition. While it isn’t an Oscar winner, it can definitely win its way into your hearts if you let it. So grab a sibling (or anyone really), settle down and enjoy this movie of romance, brotherly bonds and ultimate sacrifices.
This article first appeared in Issue 19, 2013.
Posted 2:29pm Sunday 11th August 2013 by Ashley Anderson.