“Benediction” is a magnificent biopic

Jeremy Irvine and Jack Lowden in “BENEDICTION.” (Photo Credit: Laurence Cendrowicz / Courtesy of Roadside Attractions.)

“Benediction” opening June 3 at the Landmark Ritz Five, is out gay writer/director Terence Davies’ elegant, elegiac biopic of the gay British poet Siegried Sassoon (Jack Lowden plays him as a young man; Peter Capaldi takes over the role in his later years). Exquisitely filmed, every image is — as one expects from a Davies’ period piece — suitable for framing. The director juxtaposes backgrounds, changes time periods (sometimes in a single shot) and intersperses footage from the Great War as Sassoon’s poetry is read in melancholic voiceover. The film traces Sasson’s life starting when he was a soldier and protested the war, which lands him in the care of Dr. Rivers (out gay actor Ben Daniels). It is in the hospital that Sassoon meets Wilfred Owen (Matthew Tennyson) and falls in love. However, Owen gets sent back off to war. Sassoon later has relationships with Ivor Novello (Jeremy Irvine), Glen Byam Shaw (Tom Blyth), and Stephen Tennant (Calam Lynch) before marrying Hester (Kate Phillips) and having a son. “Benediction” chronicles all of this and more, with gorgeous period costumes and music, as well as plenty of witty, bitchy dialogue. This classy, tasteful film is a magnificent tribute to the poet.