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Testament of Youth is well-acted and beautifully filmed, adding up to an enriching if not adventurous experience for fans of British period dramas.
All Critics (122)
| Top Critics (33)
| Fresh (102)
| Rotten (20)
Somehow, Vikander sells it all, not with braying and big gestures, but with vulnerability, sincerity and the sort of ethereal realness that can't be quantified. More, please, more.
Though the movie at times feels oddly unfinished (you wonder what Miranda Richardson, in a tiny role as an Oxford professor, is there for), it's artful and moving.
As a story, it evokes a word that no battlefield nurse would ever apply to her experiences: sterile.
Testament of Youth isn't a typical biopic; it's a heartfelt manual on forging ahead.
In what is a well-acted but fairly typical prestige period drama, it's Vikander's nuanced performance as the resolute but still-vulnerable Vera who gives the film its depth.
This is Vikander's film and she is very good here.
Glides with sorrowful grace, pitching at a respectful and tear-inducing tone.
Those who enjoy a biopic will enjoy this film. Also, those who like a good period drama - the attention to detail and faithful recreation of Edwardian Britain will delight and educate in equal measure.
Vikander, last seen in Ex Machina, perfectly embodies all of these complex traits without allowing the performance to disintegrate into mere histrionics.
Grim but not unwatchably so.
With expert cinematography and the help of Vikander's powerful physical expressiveness, he (Kent) manages to paint a much-needed picture of women during wartime. Even better, it's not all pretty.
Coolly directed by James Kent, the movie's anchored by the grave, delicately featured Vikander who's able to convey youthful romanticism without ever seeming childish.
It's not an overly similar movie, but as I've recently watched Atonement, Testament of Youth gave me that same sort of touchingly effective drama with a backdrop of a world war. Obviously, the two are very differently told films. But they proved to each impress in a similar way. For Testament of Youth, this was Alicia Vikander and Kit Harrington's coming out party, at least in the film world. The latter is famous for his turn in that one certain HBO show while Vikander hadn't really done anything of notoriety before this, and she is absolutely the best part about this film. Whether it be as the tomb raiding Lara Croft, the grieving Isabel Graysmark, or the curious Ava, she is brilliant in anything she does. In fact, she's quickly becoming one of my favorite actresses to watch, merely for the sheer charisma she brings with every role. And as much as I want to commend Harrington, Taron Egerton, Dominic West (who ironically also plays her father in Tomb Raider), Colin Morgan, Hayley Atwell, and Emily Watson, no one comes close to Vikander's performance here. If this film didn't get lost in her year of Danish Girl & Ex Machina, perhaps she could have been an awards contender for this film. In fact, this may be my favorite performance of hers. Can I be anymore genuine about her utterly genuine turn?
Based on the acclaimed novel, Testament of Youth is a provocative war drama that follows the experiences of Vera Brittain. After the breakout of World War I both her boyfriend and her brother enlist in England's army, and before long Vera herself feels the call to serve and drops out of university in order to be a voluntary nurse as part of England's war effort. Alicia Vikander gives an excellent performance that's quite impassioned, really capturing the character's struggles. The sets and costumes are also remarkably well-done, giving an authentic look and feel for the time period. However, there are some awkwardly inserted poetry scenes that don't really flow with the realistic tone of the film. And, the message is rather understated for such an influential novel. Yet Testament of Youth is a powerful film, and does an excellent job at portraying the unglamorous realities of war.
By necessity of source the film is structurally a little episodic, but otherwise I can't find fault in this powerful, stirring true story. The committed performances of Kit Harington and especially lead Alicia Vikander are perfect. A truly underrated film.
Testament of Youth
This is a perfectly made account of World War I, seen through the eyes of a beautiful, intelligent and educated young, middle class woman, Vera Brittain, who wrote a best-selling book about her experiences. It has never gone out of print. The quality of the production is first-class, with detailed interiors, street scenes and costumes. The English landscapes are breathtaking. Then, the scenes of battlefields and field hospitals are graphic and bloody. These are well judged, without resorting to gratuitous violence or gore for entertainment's sake. The acting, direction and editing are uniformly very good. Once again, the wonderful Emily Watson, in the role of the mother, provides key turning points in the story, within just seconds of footage. Vikander plays Vera with a pleasing neutrality, that throws the action and the characters of the story up into relief. We feel acutely the suffering of the wounded and dying and those who weep for them. Vera's speech against the cycle of killing and revenge is powerful. This is the kind of film that all young people should see. Do them credit; they could appreciate that the film shows what our own soldiers, nurses and their families and friends experienced in the carnage of WWI, which many young people are commemorating solemnly today, in the moving, annual ceremonies that we see them attending in large numbers, around the world.
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