Testament of Youth

WRITTEN BY: Juliette Towhidi 
STARRING: Alicia Vikander, Kit Harington, Taron Egerton
RATING: 3.5 stars

Based on Vera Brittain's (Alicia Vikander) famed memoir, Testament of Youth chronicles the heroine's formative years during World War One including her romance with Roland Leighton (Kit Harington) and close relationship with her sweet brother Edward (Taron Egerton) who both defer their university studies to join the war. Meanwhile, Vera begins studying at Oxford university but soon takes time off to work as a nurse during the war.

Although it is a war film, Testament of Youth shows very few battle scenes. It is focussed more on the daily struggles of the women left behind in England as they continue their education, work in hospitals and agonising wait for the men to return home. At the time of the book's release, it was considered a ground-breaking and insightful examination of life for women during WWI, and Brittain remains an important figure for feminism and pacifism. The film is bittersweet, made all the more heartbreaking because it is based on a true story and many of the key plot points are accurate. The film is also visually lovely in its depiction of the English countryside and the period.

Vikander's beauty is captivating enough, but her performance is also very strong. Her character experiences a gamut of emotions and there are a lot of close-ups allowing her face to express her feelings. Her final speech is also incredibly moving. Harington shows he has a future after Game of Thrones and Egerton is also paving the way for a successful career. The trio have great chemistry too.

Testament of Youth feels drawn-out in some parts, but it will certainly tug at the heart strings. As we mark the 100th anniversary of the Anzac spirit, this film is worth seeing. It has nothing to do with Australia directly, but it has everything to do with the legacy of WWI and its effect around the world.