Testament of Youth (10/10)
by Tony Medley
Runtime 129 minutes.
OK for children.
I went to see this mainly on the strength of Alicia Vikander, whom I had
just seen in Ex Machina where she stole the show as a robot with
artificial intelligence. I had also seen her in 2012ís
A Royal Affair,
in which I wrote, ďAlicia Vikander gives a hypnotic performance as
Denmark Queen Caroline Mathilda.Ē In Ex Machina, I wrote,
ďVikander is the one who carries more of the load because she comes
across as extremely sexy, even when you know sheís just a machine.Ē So
Iíve seen her in three films to which Iíve given 27 total points out of
a possible 30 (9/10 for A Royal Affair, 8/10 for Ex Machina,
and 10/10 for this). And the main reason for all those high scores
for those films is Vikander. She is not only drop-dead gorgeous, she is
as good an actress as Iíve ever seen, obviously worth the price of
admission by herself alone.
But this film would be wonderful even without Vikander. Directed by
James Kent from a screenplay by Juliette Towhidi based on the memoirs of
Vera Brittain (Vikander) in her book of the same name, itís almost
hopelessly romantic, but still a realistic tale of Veraís experiences
before, during, and after World War I. Although there are virtually no
battle scenes, it captures the horror of war as well as any movie Iíve
Kit Harington is richly romantic as Veraís love, Roland Leighton, and
Dominic West and Emily Watson give good performances as Veraís parents, who
have to deal with such a headstrong young daughter. The rest of the cast
is of equally high quality. Rob Hardy (who was also the cinematographer
on Ex Machina) photographs Vikander lovingly, accentuating her
natural beauty, and also provides atmospheric scenes of the English
locales of the 1910s, as well as the trench warfare battlefronts in
France and the hospitals where Vera nursed.
I saw this in a screening room at Sony and it was so almost unbearably
cold in the screening room (on a rainy night, no less) that I seriously
contemplated scooting after the first few minutes. But as the movie
segued from the opening scene of Vera on Armistice Day that ended WWI to
one of Vera and her brother and two friends in a swimming hole 4 years
earlier in 1914 before the outbreak of the war, I was hooked. Thoughts
of leaving were the last things I wanted to entertain. There was not one
slow moment in this film. On a scale of 10, Iíd like to give this an 11.