Based on the memoir by Vera Brittain, which has become the classic testimony of war from a woman’s point of view, Testament of Youth vividly brings to life the horrors of the First World War. A searing journey from youthful hopes and dreams to the edge of despair and back again, the film delves into themes revolving young love, the futility of war, and how to make sense of the darkest times.
The Lost Generation
Director James Kent crafts a moving and fully realised story of the First World War, and the implications that it had on a whole society, rather than just on its young men who bravely fought. Kent focuses his story entirely on Vera, and her journey to become an independent and educated young women, as she strives for a place at Oxford. For the first act of the film, the great war is absent and unheard until it silently creeps in, and then completely takes over the entire film’s events. From both the supposed glory that Vera’s brother Edward (Taron Egerton), and her beloved fiancee Roland (Kit Harington) feel when it first breaks and they volunteer, to the heart-wrenching violence and death that envelopes them, Kent showcases his true talents as a director.
A Star Making Turn
The film’s star Alicia Vikander and her transformative performance as Vera Brittain truly anchors the film, solidifying her as a star on the rise. Vikander is flawless as Vera, bringing a graceful beauty, fierce intelligence, and touching soul to her character. Her portrayal of a woman ahead of her time is spot on, and the character’s growth through tragedy is a real eye opener to watch.
Testament Of Youth is not for the faint of heart, but its powerful story of love, war, heartbreak, and pacifism is a moving, and important cinematic experience.