THE TRENCH tells the story of a group of young British soldiers on the eve of the Battle of the Somme in the summer of 1916, the worst defeat in British military history. Against this ill-fated backdrop, the movie depi...展开cts the soldiers' experience as a mixture of boredom, fear, panic, and restlessness, confined to a trench on the front lines. At the center of the troops is 17-year-old Billy MacFarlane (Paul Nicholls), who alongside his older brother, Eddie (Tam Williams), has volunteered for service. Like their fellow squad members, they are boys dressed as men. Their survival is in the hands of war-hardened Sergeant Winter (Daniel Craig) and bookish Lieutenant Hart (Julian Rhind-Tutt). However, when word comes that the squad will join the first wave of the attack, they all face an equal fate.
Novelist and screenwriter William Boyd's directorial debut steers clear of epic pronouncements about the pointlessness of war. Instead, he illuminates in glowing detail the characters perched at the edge of the abyss. With a minimum of bloodshed, the movie seeks to capture a momentous event through a narrow lens. Watching the men march stiffly into battle, it becomes clear there is no such thing as "modern" warfare.