A cliché-ridden, thoroughly forgettable, at times just plain dull affair, with broad characterisations and musty plot turns that would seem embarrassing even on TV - where it ideally belongs.
| Original Score: 2/5
The ending is dynamite and will shock children just as much as The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.
| Original Score: 3/5
It's perhaps more TV than cinema, but O'Connor directs with a firm hand, and children will learn valuable lessons from it.
The filmmakers tell this World War I story beautifully, but they never quite bring it to life as a proper movie. By taking a gently simplistic approach, it never feels like anything new as it deals with the usual topics of battlefield camaraderie.
The performances are admirable and the intentions unimpeachable.
Class conflict, broken hearts, self-sacrifice and the muddy, senseless folly of war are all lightly touched upon in a starchy, old-fashioned drama.
The story is told with a flashback structure which was rather nimbler on the page than it is here, and much of the dialogue grants the characters uncanny powers of foresight.
Essentially conventional in his approach, director Pat O'Connor has delivered a mostly faithful and moving account of Morpurgo's fine book.
| Original Score: 4/5
It plods along with seemingly no concern for holding our interest.
Private Peaceful is a clichéd study of two brothers going to war: Rolf Harris's Two Little Boys, minus the music.
O'Connor shows his old-school expertise in the charming country childhood sequences, where the film feels most individual and alive.
Private Peaceful is a small-scale story in essence, which works efficiently on the non-epic scale in which it's presented.
Minor pacing gripes aside, this is a moving tale about humanity's darkest depths.
The lacklustre landscapes are all of a wash with the watercolour performances and pallidly portentous tableaux of war and peace.
If there is something a little old-fashioned and televisual about the film's family-friendly handling of its subject, the filmmakers' restraint ensures that the story remains quietly moving.
Pat O'Connor gives the story a sturdy if rather old-fashioned treatment.
With the feel of prestige telly, it's nicely done, sweet and moving.
It's left to the leads to keep us engaged, a tall order given their film's old-fashioned, fusty feel.