Vera Brittain’s heartbreaking World War One memoir Testament of Youth gets a superb feature film adaptation that more than measures up to the beloved five-part BBC TV series from 1979.
Swedish actress Alicia Vikander might seem a curious choice for the lead role (memorably played on TV by Cheryl Campbell), but she proves outstanding, involving us from the start in Vera’s overwhelming emotional journey as the starry-eyed young woman with dreams of studying at Oxford goes on to witness the horrors of war as a volunteer nurse and experiences the utmost depths of grief as she loses, one by one, the young men dearest to her.
Vikander gets striking stiff-upper-lipped support from Kit Harrington (Game of Thrones) as Vera’s fiancé Roland Leighton, Taron Egerton as her brother Edward, and Colin Morgan and Jonathan Bailey as their close friends Victor Richardson and Geoffrey Thurlow, and from Emily Watson and Dominic West as Vera’s stuffy middle-class parents, while director James Kent brings the story’s contrasting locations – from idyllic Derbyshire countryside to nightmarish trenches – vividly to life.
Certificate 12. Runtime 124 mins. Director James Kent.
Testament of Youth is released on DVD & Blu-ray by Lions Gate Home Entertainment UK.
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