20 April 2015

Testament of Youth

Testament of Youth 2014
  • Director: James Kent
  • Based on the autobiography of Vera Brittain
  • Cast: Colin Morgan, Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Emily Watson, Dominic West, Miranda Richardson, Nicholas Farrell
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor in:
    • Colin Morgan – The Fall, The Tempest, Quirke, Merlin, Island, Parked, The Catherine Tate Show, Doctor Who
    • Alicia Vikander – even though she’s Swedish I’ve never seen her in anything before
    • Kit Harington – not being a fan of Game off Thrones I haven’t seen him before either
    • Emily Watson – Wah-Wah, Punch-Drunk Love, Godford Park, Cradle Will Rock, Equilibrium, Hilary and Jackie, The Boxer, Breaking the Waves
    • Dominic West – Mona Lisa’s Smile, Chicago, 28 Days, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Surviving Picasso, Richard III
    • Miranda Richardson – Harry Potter, The Young Victoria, Paris je t’aime, Merlin, Wah-Wah, The Hours, Spider, Get Carter, Black Adder, Sleepy Hollow, Absolutely Fabulous, Kansas City, The Crying Game, Enchanted April, Dance with a Stranger
    • Nicholas Farrell – Amazing Grace, Driving Lessons, Sex Chips & Rock’n’Roll, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, In the Bleak Midwinter, Othello
  • Why?  Colin Morgan
  • Seen:  April 18, 2015 at the cinema 

There are many films and TV series in which World War One forms the tragic backdrop.  Many of them are very good.
As is this one.  Based on Vera Brittain’s autobiography it is her story and Alicia Vikander’s film. Vikander is consistently strong as the determined young woman of the gentry who fights to be allowed to enter Oxford, only to give up her studies to become a nurse when the war breaks out.
Three young men orbit around her. Her fiancé Roland, her brother Ted and their friend Victor who is in love with Vera. They all go to war.  We know what will happen.
It’s an anti-war film. Vera Brittain became a prominent pacifist.
It’s a good film but I want more.  There is little character development other that Vera’s.  The beloved brother is essentially anonymous. Kit Harington as the romantic interest is flat and completely unconvincing. There is no chemistry between him and Vikander. The role would have been much better played by Colin Morgan and only he of the young men brings pathos to the small role as Victor in which he was actually cast.
It’s a handsome film and well crafted. It’s worth seeing. I appreciate the choice of subtle nuances over bombastic drama but the result is too reserved for the final experience to be as great as I had hoped for.

3 ½ * of 5

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