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Strong performances and a vivid evocation of its wartime milieu highlight this stirring British drama


“A powerful anti-war drama … the film delivers an evocative portrait of its early twentieth century, rural England milieu … Adding greatly to the overall impact are the strong performances by the three leads, with O'Connell displaying the charisma that seems destined to propel him to screen stardom, Mackay delivering a sensitive turn as the young man determined to go to war, and Roach radiant as the love interest for both brothers.”

Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter



Melancholic 'Private Peaceful' orchestrated with grace

“Melancholy runs deep in "Private Peaceful," a richly appointed British period piece about fraternal loyalty adapted from the book of the same name by "War Horse" author Michael Morpurgo … director Pat O'Connor ("Circle of Friends") employs a delicate, organic touch, lending a vivid sense of place to both the pastoral Devon backdrops and the grim, muddy trenches of Flanders. He keeps you so coddled in atmosphere — further heightened by Rachel Portman's lovely, elegiac score — that you're totally unprepared for the ending, which, like the rest of the film, is orchestrated with nuance and grace.”

Michael Rechtshaffen, Los Angeles Times



“… mature, with echoes of O'Connor's wistful A Month in the Country and haunting Cal (whose John Lynch portrays a malicious sergeant here). O'Connor captures all the beauty of these rural childhoods without skimping on the harsh realities of 20th-century feudalism. Charlie emerges as the film's most dynamic presence, railing against the guardians of an antiquated empire even as his need to protect the younger Tommo repeatedly puts him in their grips.”

Serena Donadoni, The New York Village Voice



“The beautiful score by Rachel Portman”

Film Journal International





A beautiful film … few other cinematic efforts are so well constructed and shrewdly characterised ****

Derek Malcolm – Evening Standard


The grime and the grind of the period is expertly re-created …the performances are admirable and the intentions unimpeachable

Radio Times


…this gritty yet handsome adaptation… retains the clear-eyed observations of the original (and) fleshes out the novel’s atmospheric battle scenes in fine style

Kate Stables – Sight & Sound


Many of the elements that worked for Steven Spielberg’s ‘War Horse’ are present and correct in WW1 drama ‘Private Peaceful’

Charles Gant – Variety


…it’s nicely done, sweet and moving



…genuinely suspenseful

Quentin Falk – Saga Magazine


Another must-see film from the author of War Horse … A potent WW1 drama



A truly beautiful film that will touch your soul

Woman & Home


…a fittingly poignant big screen treatment

Little White Lies


…through the film's simplicity, fine performances and well-written screenplay, Private Peaceful is a delicate and warm portrayal of love for family, for friends, and for one's country



…paints a deeply intense portrait of a rural community and how war tears a society apart

Morning Star


... it's so moving, in a thoroughly British manner: it has the power to make you cry... a finely-delivered film, with some nice touches of humour amongst the serious messages about love, war and family, all contributing to form an absorbing, thought-provoking piece of cinema****

Royal Air Force News


…there is much to enjoy



…it's well-made, handsomely photographed, well-acted, thoroughly researched and the battle sequences are well edited





…this moving drama

Sunday Mirror


…this modest, heartfelt movie

Peter Bradshaw – Guardian


…a finely-told story



…a moving portrayal of family loyalty and love in the face of the horror and hypocrisy of war



…a film that is unflinching in its account of the genocide of a generation

Little White Lies


The story is really good

CBBC Newsround




O’Connor directs with a firm hand and children will learn valuable lessons from it

Philip French – Observer


Pat O'Connor's film serves well as an introduction to the first world war for intelligent children

Sunday Times


…destined to be shown in school history lessons

Independent on Sunday


…this is an old-fashioned family drama that keeps its head high from start to finish ****

Alison Rowat – Glasgow Herald


A lovely children’s film

Kate Muir – Times


Unusually for a family film, we’re steadily fed pointed political insights into the flagrant abuses of the pre-war rural poor

Kate Stables – Sight & Sound




MacKay and O’Connell are both outstanding, as is Maxine Peake as their long-suffering but brave mother, while Griffiths makes you laugh and shudder at the pompous colonel ****

Derek Malcolm – Evening Standard


…the lads are spot-on: young Mackay is effectively touching and bristling; O’Connell hints at Next Big Thing charisma

Trevor Johnston – Time Out


Veteran director Pat O’Connor (‘Dancing at Lughnasa’) is well served by his lead actors: Mackay has a naturally soulful quality, deftly hinting at inner hurt, and O’Connell has Charlie’s cheeky grin and natural charisma down pat

Charles Gant – Variety


Jack O'Connell (Skins) and George MacKay are excellent as the brothers in arms ****

Alison Rowat – Glasgow Herald


The performances are all splendid, especially by the young romantic triangle as well as the three lesser-known, but equally fine, trio of actors (Samuel Bottomley, Hero Fiennes-Tiffin, Izzy Meikle-Small) who play even younger versions of the principals

Quentin Falk – Saga Magazine


Mackay and O'Connell are totally compelling to watch in this performance-driven drama

Morning Star


…a gloriously unpleasant John Lynch

Kate Stables – Sight & Sound


... John Lynch dominates the screen with his blistering portrayal of the brutal Sergeant Hanley...with strong support from some of our finest actors, including Richard Griffiths, Frances de la Tour and Maxine Peake****

Royal Air Force News


…some seriously fine performances…Jack O'Connell's performance is wonderfully British…George Mackay gives a sterling performance…an elegant and fine performance from rising talent, Alexandra Roach



Jack O'Connell's searingly charismatic performance



The two young boys (Samuel Bottomley and Hero Fiennes-Tiffin) are good, as are their adult counterparts, particularly young Jack, who shares the same cheeky smile with his late adult self. The very versatile Peake is strong as their feisty but struggling widowed mother, there’s a nice cameo for De La Tour as the family’s grumpy aunt and Griffiths is suitably gung ho as the Colonel





…director Pat O’Connor has delivered a mostly faithful and moving account of Morpurgo’s fine book ****

Derek Malcolm – Evening Standard


Veteran director Pat O’Connor (Circle of Friends) shows his old-school expertise in the charming country childhood sequences

Trevor Johnston – Time Out


 O’Connor confronts the real questions about the human heart beating within

Little White Lies




…praise should go to Simon Reade’s shrewd screenplay ****

Derek Malcolm – Evening Standard


Simon Reade generously finds room for an array of supporting characters

Charles Gant – Variety




Jerzy Zielinski keeps the film’s palette keenly attuned to its moods, warm country hues giving way to muddy greys on the Western Front

Kate Stables – Sight & Sound




…succeeds in hitting the right emotional notes, with a handy assist from Rachel Portman’s score

Charles Gant – Variety

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