The Testament of Youth trailers didn’t really inspire me to book a cinema ticket straight away and I really wasn’t in any rush to see this film however it was the only film out last weekend that I hadn’t seen and what is a weekend without a trip to the cinema, so alas I saw Testament of Youth. This film is based on the bestselling war memoir of the same name written by Vera Brittian.
The film is a mixed bag but ultimately I have to admit that my attention was wavering for most of the film. I can identify why this is though as Testament of Youth takes a great focus on the romance element of the story and probably rightly so as I imagine this is a central element to Brittian’s memoir. However I simply don’t think this focus transitions well to the big screen and spanned out across two hours. Although I did find the romance element monotonous and at times boring that wasn’t to say that Testament of Youth was a bad film, it was far from that! The entire cast deliver good performances, the film looks well and it is genuinely one of the most thought provoking war films that I have ever seen. Just a word of warning though, despite being set around the time of World War I there isn’t many scenes depicting war – this isn’t a criticism just know not to expect these moments as it is more a statement about war than a in depth look at war itself.
As I say the film is incredibly thought provoking and I have never quite grasped some aspects of war quite like the way I did whilst watching this film. It was nice to see the perspective of a figure other than a solider and Brittian’s journey to Oxford and then on to becoming a nurse gave a great insight into the reality of those who didn’t physically go to war but who had many battles of their own to fight during this time. This film isn’t just about war and romance, issues of class are raised and even the repercussions of war too. The film goes deeper than just soliders shooting each other. There is strong emotion in this film even when you set the romance element to one side which I was glad of. There was also one particular scene during the ending which was so striking, it had a really eery feel to it and was probably the most thought-provoking moment of the entire film. Apart from this the ending is a little muddled, the film doesn’t quite know when to stop so ends up adding more and more scenes on just for the sake of it it seemed. However that particular scene made up for it and potentially could have made for a better ending if the credits had rolled after it instead.
Testament of Youth is a really interesting film, unfortunately it spends too long focusing on the romance element of the story which was one of the less interesting elements. Even after this though there is so much to engage with and it should make you think about war in a way you maybe haven’t thought about before, it really hit home the message of a lost generation with a stolen youth, I thought this was brilliant. I’m really happy that I now know some of Vera Brittian’s story however it is one I would probably gain more from if I read it in her memoir opposed to watching this film.
BIGGEST FLAW – Too much focus on the romance element
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT – So thought-provoking
Rating – 7.5/10