“Testament of Youth”

Directed by James Kent

testament_a<sigh> I REALLY wanted to love this. I’m a WWII and WWI amateur historian (which simply means I’ve read dozens of books and seen dozens of docs on those subjects). And this seemed like it would be a perfect addition to the big war feature-film canon – especially as it is one of the only histories written from the point of view of a woman who experienced the horrific results of WWI combat firsthand – but, alas, it falls short. Nothing obvious, mind you. The acting is fine, the script is meh, but certainly not bad, and the direction, while paint-by-numbers, is not an obvious flaw…but the sum of its parts never quite surpasses themselves. So you’re left with s pretty soulless experience about something that should have been riveting and devastating. Also, the budget must’ve been smaller than they hoped, because the actual visual scope never matches the director’s intended effect of scope. But on the plus side, Jon Snow – er…Kit Harrington – is getting better and better as an actor and he’s quite effective. And Alicia Vikander, while not up to the Herculean task of the role, is still engaging. Not sure what Jimmy McNulty – er…Dominic West…is doing in this film…and Emily Watson is never allowed to be much beyond a placeholder for the “Old Days”. Anyway, I’m making it sound worse than it was because the book deserves so much more than a glorified “Masterpiece Theater” treatment…which is pretty much what it feels like. <sigh>

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