Testament of Youth Movie Review
The hot robot chick from Ex Machina and the dude who may or may not be dead in “Game of Thrones” star in the beautifully filmed Testament of Youth, a drama that has everything going for it except, you know, it’s sort of boring.
Alicia Vikander plays Vera Brittain, who wrote the World War I memoir upon which the movie is based. Brittain is essentially your stereotypical Jane Austen character, a wealthy young woman who says “fuck you” to her dad--who just wants her to play piano, get married and start knocking out babies--and opts to go to Oxford instead. Naturally, once she gets there, she decides her intellect would be better used by cleaning up severed limbs on the Western Front.
Jon Snow… er, Kit Harington… plays the guy she wants to marry and start knocking out babies with.
Vikander is very good as Brittain, in which she showcases once again her ability to relay emotion with nuance and subtlety. Unfortunately, the role isn’t particularly memorable--compared to her parts in genre flicks Ex Machina and The Man from U.N.C.L.E., there isn’t a whole lot to latch onto here. It’s not that the writing is bad--it just isn’t that engaging.
And that’s the problem with Testament of Youth overall: while director James Kent has made a gorgeous, slick-looking film that defies at least some of the stodginess you’d expect from a period film, the final product is simply bland. The first half is especially egregious, hitting upon notes we’ve seen before while trying to convince us that Vikander and Harington have chemistry, let alone love each other. By the time the movie gets more interesting--i.e. war--too much time has passed to care what happens next.
Testament of Youth is a frustrating film, a well-acted, nice-looking piece of filmmaking that isn’t too far greatness, but just far enough to be considered a disappointment.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.