Friday, 16 January 2015

Testament of Youth (2015)

Since 2014 was the 100th year since the start of World War I, I would have expected more WWI-based films to have been released. Instead, there have a flood of WWII ones in cinemas ('The Railway Man', 'The Monuments Men', 'Stalingrad', 'The Book Thief', 'The Wind Rises', 'Fury', 'The Imitation Game', 'The Grandmaster', 'Unbroken', and 'The Woman in Black 2'), a fair few of which want to be award bait. Though it is possible I missed some films. I watch less than half of the year's supply of films.

This drama is an adaptation of the book that goes by the same name. It follows Vera Brittain's (Alicia Vikander) experiences during the First World War. Starting off near Buxton (*feeling of pride you get when a film mentions a place you've lived*), we have Vera, her brother (Edward) and two other friends - Kit Harington's Roland and Colin Morgan's Victor - all getting along and looking forwards to a bright future. The the war breaks out encouraging Edward, Roland, and Victor to all enlist as they believe it's their duty and that the war won't last long. As they're off doing that, Vera gives up on her studying at Oxford to help with the war effort by volunteering as a nurse.

It's a well-meaning, respectful film and Vikander does very well in the lead. The trouble is that the film may be too respectful to the point where it nullifies much of the impact the film could have had. Where there should have been a film with depth and capable of throwing strong punches there is, instead, slow, soppy drama that doesn't delve far enough into its subject or characters (I can only assume she falls in love with Roland because she is a 'Game of Thrones' fan). There are moments in the film that do have a little effect but it mostly comes off as a slow, soppy drama which I didn't feel got the war across as well as it should have (it was certainly in a position to do so).

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