Ben Oliver

Banner image for Testament of Youth

Testament of Youth

Violets from oversea, To your dear, far, forgetting land, These I send in memory, Knowing You will understand.
11 January 2015

A dramatisation of Vera Brittain’s memoir of the same name, Testament of Youth recounts her experiences growing up and falling in love during the First World War.

This has all the elements that make a great period drama. Solid lead performances, a great supporting cast, a confident director, a sweeping soundtrack and a strong script. It’s also long, and feels like it had a large budget.

There are few surprises to be had with this film but that’s not always a bad thing. After all, this is a deeply personal story, it seems prudent to tread carefully. It’s important the film makers tell the story, and if that means sticking to tried and tested techniques then so be it.

Alicia Vikander stands out as Brittain, she plays a potentially dull role well enough to be compelling and interesting. Harington is a little smug but is also solid. The supporting cast are old hands at this now, Emily Watson, Anna Chancellor, Miranda Richardson, Dominic West; Watson in particular seems to only be cast as the doting mother these days. Again, if it ain’t broke…

Testament of Youth is no masterpiece, but James Kent pays respect to the source material and makes it a worthwhile production. A strong attention to detail and a heartbreaking story elevate it above the other period chaff.

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