The film was incredibly emotive from start to finish. Without trying to give too much away about the plot, it was clear from very early on that it would not have a particularly happy ending (but then what war film does?) and it wasn’t long before Matt handed me the tissue box ‘just in case’. The acting, which was incredible on all accounts, drew us in immediately and we were taken back to the First World War, sharing in the terror of the soldiers and the pain of those left behind at home. The battlefields and field hospitals in France revealed the suffering of the soldiers and the bravery of the nurses who looked after them, and towards the end I was very glad the tissues were on hand.
Testament of Youth reminded me very slightly of Atonement – although of course based on the First World War rather than the Second – with flashbacks to the characters’ youths at the family home prior to the outbreak of war, scenes of the men at war and the sisters/girlfriends becoming nurses. Interestingly enough, Saoirse Ronan from Atonement was even originally cast as Vera, but had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts and was replaced by the fabulous Alicia Vikander. Despite the slight parallels, however, Testament of Youth has an added element of emotion because it is of course based on a true story. I couldn’t help remembering this fact as I watched the film, and Vera’s pain was all the stronger for it.
All in all, this was a very moving portrayal of life and love in the First World War, and I would absolutely recommend you see it if you haven’t already. Just don’t forget those tissues.