This article is dark and full of spoilers. Be forewarned.
I will confess, I hadn’t heard of Testament of Youth until a few days ago as I was looking for .gifs for my Kit Harington piece I will be posting later this week. I was immediately taken with the imagery I saw in the .gifs and screencaps posted on Tumblr. I sought it out and let me tell you something, I was blown away by the sheer beauty of it. The cinematography was stunning. The acting was phenomenally on point. The character development was both heartbreaking and visceral. I was so amazed I hadn’t ever heard of it.
Testament of Youth tells the true story of Vera Brittain, an aspiring novelist and feminist, as she navigates the brutal horrors of World War I and the hope that can come after devastating loss. Alicia Vikander, pre-The Danish Girl, is quite obviously the driving force of this film. She plays Vera with the perfect mix of vulnerability and fierceness that would quite possibly rival the real Brittain as she was in the war.
Kit Harington played her starcrossed lover Roland Leighton and, besides Jon Snow, it is quite possibly his best performance to date. There is an uncertain rawness that drives every movement. By the time you see his break down on the beach with Vera, you realise just how great of a character and performance this is for him. It’s understated yet full of emotions and hope. Everything a young man going to war would feel as his world is upended by not only violence but love.
The supporting cast is equally as talented, if poorly underused. Colin Morgan plays Vera’s secret admirer and best friend Victor Richardson. Taron Edgerton plays her brother Edward. Both of the talented actors don’t nearly get enough screen time. They use the time they have to drive home their characters and develop them in a way that doesn’t seem two dimensional as most supporting characters are often relegated to.
One of the most amazing things I noticed first off, was just how beautiful the film is.
No, seriously, this film is gorgeous. It’s perhaps the prettiest movie I’ve ever had the honour of watching.
James Kent does an amazing job at capturing not only the beauty of England before the war but also the bleakness of France toward the end of the fighting and how that translates to the character’s moods and spirits. It’s quite a creative feat, honestly. One I haven’t seen done effectively until this film managed to accomplish it. Kent also uses flashbacks to not only up the romanticism but to also, oddly enough, move the story along. It’s quite honestly the coolest little piece of film making I’ve seen. This just makes the film even better in my opinion.
Another thing that makes Testament of Youth even better is character development. Like, guys, the character development in this film is off the hook. I mean, we’re talking blow my mind amazing. A lot of this calls back to the actors and the job they did but even more of it is the writing of the script.
Like…just…I can’t even get my words to function right because just…the character development.
Ugh. Harington’s Roland has great development before he just suddenly dies. (I am bitter about this, okay?) He goes from this sensitive poet who wants to remove himself from her mother’s shadow and become a writer to this horribly broken and tragic soldier to a man who hopes. (Until it’s all ripped away and we lose him and that was awfully unfair. Okay?)
I could seriously go on and on about this gem of a film. I could. But for now, I leave you with this because it’s quite happy and cute and you’ll need happy and cute by the time the movie is over.
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