I think that Mr. Davies was so depressed making this film that he forgot to pay attention to the plot.
Terence Davies is a thinking man’s director, which is both an asset and a drawback. His films like The Deep Blue Sea (2011) and The House of Mirth (2000) burrow into the heart of the human condition. On the other hand, many members of the audience are left repeatedly wondering, “Where the hell are you going with this, Terence?”
Sunset Song follows the life of a young, independent Scottish woman at the outbreak of World War I. In the process, Mr. Davies uses an extremely heavy hand to repeat the basic theme of Gone With the Wind (1939), “It’s the land, Katie Scarlett.” While everyone is dedicated to maintaining the family farm, Mr. Davies gives us a depiction of one of the most hateful men to appear on the screen. Peter Mullan plays the father, an authoritarian, despicable human being who brutalizes his son while viewing his wife as little more than a vehicle to repeatedly get pregnant even though she is 50 years old.
Though the film eventually focused on the tragic effect of World War I on Scottish soldiers and their families, it took an incredibly long time to focus on that topic. It had the same effect as if the great white whale in Moby Dick (1956) only appeared during the last 15 minutes of the film. Yes, the relationship of Ahab and Queequeg was crucial to the film, but the whale was a bit more than an afterthought.
In any event, if you really want to see an excellent film that concentrated on young men of the British Isles who were misled into enlisting in WW1 based on patriotic fervor, then go see Testament of Youth (2014). And if you are still interested in seeing Sunset Song, watch it from your bed at home. You will sleep peacefully long before its conclusion.