The new film "Testament of Youth" is a fabulous film and my apologies for got getting out this review earlier this week while it was still playing in Red Bank (Big Time worth the effort to try to find or stream).
I've never been a big fan of British period films but this one had a historial angle and was based on the actual memoir of Vera Britain (which I didn't know till the end). This 2 hour film had many of the qualities which to me make an "Epic" like riveting story, uncomplex, emotional pain, brilliant acting, visually powerful all supported by a special musical score. I always add in that a true epic also must be at least 150 minutes long. Such movies to me in that category are "The English Patient, Titanic, Gangs of NY, There Will Be Blood" etc.
"Testament of Youth" is not an epic but sure nipping at the heals. First, only 2 hours long and second, the star, Alicia Vikander, is not a star…yet.
What a regal talent…by stock in her now. Never heard of her before nor recognize her but boy does she own the big screen like a A-lister does & should.
This is her story growing up in England and runs from 1915-1918 and takes place just before WWI and thru the end of it. It shares her journey as a piss and vinegar strong, proud, extremely well educated and driven young lady with a mission to go to college, namely Oxford. Her books and her writing is what moves and inspires her.
She achieves her dream and plans to join her older brother there & his few friends (one of which is a romantic interest of hers). Side note, my bad, I knew nothing about this film. Then the uber actress Emily Watson appears in the 1st 5 minutes as Vera's Mom and I'm jonesing as I think she is one of the best actresses in the world. Alas, her screen time is minimal.
Back to the film which slowly unfolds and pounds you with the ravages of war. Not the blood & guts (there is some, but moreso showing the injuries)), rather the impact of a war on ones home country. EVERYTHING CHANGES and for Vera, so does her dreams, her spirit, her priorities etc.
It is simply fascinating to watch, and so emotionally draining, as her goals are road blocked and detoured thru war. The journey of the pains of war drain her the innocence on her face, her eyes, her smile. You could feel her huge angst, share her big decisions, root for her yet highly respect the hard decisions she makes.
Folks, this slowly and clearly portrayed film is remarkable as is Miss Vikander. Playing only in Chatham NJ today and a # of places in NYC. A star is born (Miss Vikander) and powerful story (hers) is told…track down this film.