The film industry has been graced with a very large box full of actors, directors and so on over the past few years from Britain. It has now become so gracious that these British films are having more of a general release rather than just a limited, selected cinema release. The power of the Brits is so highly recognised, we’re dominating the box office with huge nominations in this year’s award season. Kicking off 2015 with the magical Theory of Everything, we’ve quickly received yet another grand performance in the form of a compelling, love story during the first world war.
Testament of Youth is a remembrance of youth and love based on the memoir of World War One by Vera Brittain, giving a more in-depth view of those not only left behind during the the war, but from a woman’s point of view. Alicia Vikander plays Vera, a strong, intelligent female lead who has overcome the struggles of sexism in that society to go to Oxford university and pursue a scholarship in literature. Falling in love with her brother’s best friend, who happens to be a dashingly handsome poet in the making, Roland Leighton (Kit Harington), life begins to fall apart as their youth is taken away from them when the war begins resulting in the men getting shipped off to the front leaving Vera behind. Unable to cope knowing her loved ones are out there serving in the war, she makes the decision to volunteer as a nurse giving her services to the war, keeping a close watch for any communications about her loved ones and experiencing the war from a new perspective.
Vikander leads the pack with a solid, emotional performance highlighting every aspect of love, romance, distress and the feeling of being hopeless and lifeless but plucking up the courage to be the backbone and inspiration for her men to get home safely. Her physical presence in the more silent scenes is where her performance really hits you the most. It’s heart wrenching. Vikander and Harington’s on-screen chemistry truly portrayed the perfect love story, but in general the chemistry and performances from everyone including Taron Egerton, Colin Morgan, Dominic West, Emily Watson and Hayley Atwell, were delightful.
The cinematography and locations chosen, especially in Yorkshire, were beautiful and helped to really capture the intensity and fear of not only the war, but that sense of emotion and personality of these characters during the war. Consolata Boyle did a more than superb job with the costume design adding even more character and dominance to the environment.
Outstanding performances, a perfect balance between romanticism and grief and the sheer brilliance of demonstrating the struggles of maturity when one’s youth has been stolen, this is not just a memoir, but is a testament of life itself. Testament of Youth is the perfect example of how far British film has come and where we stand now.