Testament of Youth

'Testament of Youth' is based on Vera Brittain's deeply felt 1933 memoir of her WWI experiences. "From first to last it sweeps you away." Kenneth Turan, LA Times

Now at the Twin! “As the inexperienced protagonist of Testament of Youth, Vera Brittain’s memoir about coming of age during World War I, Swedish actress Alicia Vikander taps great reservoirs of resolve and vulnerability. She positively smolders in the role, capturing both Vera’s innocence and her headstrong will. The performance is a subtle tour de force of feeling and restraint, made all the more remarkable by the whiplash highs and lows of this true but melodramatic tale.

“Testament of Youth centers on the 20-something Vera, who puts aside her college studies at Oxford after one year when war breaks out. Working as a field nurse, she becomes the heart and soul of a tight-knit group of soldiers. What this aspiring writer, who went on to become a notable pacifist, learns about love, sacrifice, heartbreak and the ravages of war could — and did — fill a book. Published in 1933, Testament of Youth became an instant hit. It was followed by two other memoirs.

“The circumstances of Vera’s education in the school of hard knocks are, on occasion, almost implausibly well timed. If this tale were entirely fictional, it would be tough to swallow some of the tragedies that Vera endures, one of which she learns of on her wedding day. Vikander never goes for the easy emotion, though, choosing instead to play against what conventional melodrama would dictate her reaction should be. This understatedness is always the right choice, and it makes for a far more effective — and affecting — film.

“Testament of Youth is a celebration of female strength. The two-hour-plus film, which is essentially one long flashback, ends where it began, on Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1918. It concludes with the words: “All of us are surrounded by ghosts. Now we must learn how to live with them.”

“Testament of Youth memorably charts that lesson, earning its cumulative power with a combination of grace and grit that is, in no small measure, thanks to its bright, burning star.”
- Michael O'Sullivan, Washington Post


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