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Company of Four

average rating is 3 out of 5


Joe Beck


Posted on:

Mar 4, 2023

Film Reviews
Company of Four
Directed by:
Harry Walters
Written by:
Harry Walters
Angus Foulkes, Harry Walters, Gabriel Phelan, Charlie Tantam

It’s strange both how little, and how much, the world has changed over the past one hundred years. Sure, we’ve made huge technological strides, and we’re certainly a more inclusive and diverse society than we were a century ago, but still, very little has changed about people themselves. You’ll still find the same bonds of family, love, friendship running between people, same as you did then, and, unfortunately, you’ll still find the same loss of impassioned youth.


When those soldiers went to war in 1914, and over the course of the following four years, they thought that they were stopping a conflict on such a scale happening again, and yet over one hundred years later we continue to see war, albeit of a very different nature, in Europe once again. ‘Company of Four’ captures the innocence of many of those young men who lost their lives, or indeed lost that unstained purity of youth, fighting for their country all those long years ago, before tactfully making us question the futility of it all.


Written and directed by Harry Walters, ‘Company of Four’ depicts four young boys eager to serve their country and make their families proud as they stand on the brink of being called up for active service. The boys mess around, taking the mick out of one another, as lads still do, and put on brave faces to mask their nerves. Nobody really wants to say it, though Edward (Harry Walters) comes closest, but they know that there’s a good chance that they might not return and they’re scared for their lives.


While Walters’ script is effective in establishing the bonds of connection between the group, its dialogue sometimes feels forced and unnatural, a shallow attempt to pick up the kind of language teenagers were saying a hundred years ago. This truly comes to the fore in an incredibly awkward scene between James (Angus Foulkes) and his mother, which is dreadfully stiff, not helping either actor, who both sound incredibly bored. 


Walters’ directing, on the other hand, serves him far better, adeptly establishing the relationship between camera with his lens, which also captures, at times, some impressive cinematography. Perhaps more impressive is his ability to make you empathise with the characters in the bluntness of his direction - there isn’t anything flashy to take away from the grim reality and sense of impending doom for these young men, Walter’s understands that subtlety is needed in his direction, and that is what he delivers. 


The real killer moment of ‘Company of Four’ comes when it sharply cuts to the present day - we see two lads, same as those from one hundred years ago, walking down the street laughing. They’re the same lads but they don’t have war on their minds, hell, they don’t even know if they had family that fought in world war one, as Walters’ makes his final, most damning point on the futility of war.


‘Company of Four’ may occasionally encounter a rough patch, but it does more than enough to get across its potent, and sadly still pertinent, message across both effectively and emotionally. 


About the Film Critic
Joe Beck
Joe Beck
Short Film
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