Testament of Youth Screen 7 articles

Testament of Youth

2014

Testament of Youth Poster
  • Testament Of Youth plods along dutifully from tragedy to tragedy, as almost everyone Vera loves is taken from her, and the horrible sights she witnesses push her toward a more outspokenly pacifist point of view. There should be some charge to witnessing the character’s slow moral awakening, but director James Kent barely gives the material a pulse.

  • Those who think they don’t make ’em like they used to may well enjoy James Kent’s Testament of Youth. That’s if your idea of how they used to make ’em equates to prettily packaged misery and stiff-upper-lipped loss. Based on a memoir by Vera Brittain, this is the debut feature of a seasoned TV director who unambitiously pitches this biopic at the Downton Abbey set rather than those more likely to take full heed of a trailblazing homegrown heroine.

  • Directed by British TV veteran James Kent, Testament of Youth plays exactly like sober, relentlessly tasteful British television. Vikander has an appealing ferocity as a woman who feels stifled by the restrictions of her era, but her performance is undermined by the movie’s emphasis on romance, a comparatively minor aspect of the book (which covers 25 years rather than just four).

  • The sumptuous yet solemn feature debut of television director James Kent is a worthy and moving tribute to that flowering generation whose memory bloomed so spectacularly last year as the Tower of London's famous dry moat ran blood red with over 800,000 poppies. A field of these flowers adorns much of the film's promotional material, the U.S. one-sheet in particular, intensifying their hue to a flame that's accurately indicative of this atypically vivid biopic.

  • Kent presents the female experience of war with crisp, tactile practicality, likening the nurses’ hospital training to a kind of rigorous boot camp in itself. Rob Hardy’s camera, meanwhile, lingers in penetrating closeup on the broken, bloodied skin of the wounded. Unabashedly romantic the film may be, but little about Brittain’s grief-ridden personal awakening is needlessly romanticized.

  • With Testament of Youth, our collective poppy-strewn dream imagery of a decimated generation of the gallant young men of WWI — and their noble horses too — might undergo a sea change. Alicia Vikander, simultaneously poignant and powerful as Vera Brittain, the writer who fought her way into Oxford then chucked that to go to the front as a nurse, gives another indelible performance, her tragedies foretold by the forlorn-looking women at the train station sending off their jolly soldiers.

  • An intimate epic, “Testament of Youth” has great historical sweep yet remains focused on the human vicissitudes experienced by Vera and her circle. Making his feature debut after work in television and documentaries, director James Kent proves exceptionally skilled in supplying the film with a hauntingly poetic visual sense and eliciting fine, exacting performances from his able cast.

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