Thursday, July 2, 2015

[Review] Testament of Youth

Testament of Youth is a British period piece set in the early 1900s. It stars Alicia Vikander (known for being the breakout actress playing the role of Eva in this year's excellent sci-fi thinker Ex Machina), and Kit Harington (known most as the fan-favorite Jon Snow in HBO's "Game of Thrones").

The independent, strong-willed pacifist Vera (Vikander) lives with her family in the peaceful countryside. One weekend, her brother's friend Roland (Harington) comes to visit and fills the place with his poetic charm. Vera initially strays away from him, but it isn't very long before their impending love begins to flourish. On the other side, something more treacherous is brewing, and that is the onset of the First World War. What takes place is a sprawling tale about the beauty of love, as well as the atrocities of war, all seen through the eyes of Vera.

The prominent aspects include the gorgeous scenery, chilling score, and lush period detail. This is all a quiet and tranquil contrast to some of the uglier and tragic settings and events later on. Despite its careful aesthetics, there are a handful of portions (particularly at the beginning) that might underwhelm slightly, as it settles into by-the-numbers period drama (train station goodbyes and all). But the full result is a harrowing and emotionally rewarding endeavor.

The cleaned-up Jon Snow Kit Harington is solid here, but of course the real standout is Alicia Vikander as she carries the story with an endearing and nuanced performance. It's becoming quite clear that she's on the verge of becoming a very prestigious name in the acting game.


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