With some seriously fine performances and a simple but effective visual style that helps establish the film as a believable period piece, O'Connor's film is a solid adaptation of Michael Morpurgo's novel.
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With the feel of prestige telly, it's nicely done, sweet and moving.
Fans of PBS, history and a certain kind of old-fashioned moviemaking may fall in.
It’s left to the leads to keep us engaged, a tall order given their film’s old-fashioned, fusty feel.
Private Peaceful is a small-scale story in essence, which works efficiently on the non-epic scale in which it's presented.
By modestly embracing its inherent minimalism and finding the emotions underlying even the most schematic of scenarios, the film taps into something unmistakably human.
Nothing here is raw enough for the strength of the brothers’ bond and the weight of their sacrifice to really bite.
O'Connor tries mightily to contextualize the suffering of the Peaceful brothers at home and abroad, making a better case for the British class system's demise than for their survival.
There’s much over-egged mugging from the grown-ups (bumbling toff Richard Griffiths, shouty sarge John Lynch), but the lads are spot-on: young Mackay is effectively touching and bristling O’Connell hints at Next Big Thing charisma.