Testament of Youth ~ Review
Most of you should remember my Testament of Youth pre-gushing post I did several days ago, don't you? I wrote that post when I kinda of discovered the movie 'Testament of Youth.' I described in great gusto my burning wish to watch the movie because it looked so stinking amazing. I swooned over the pictures I had endlessly pinned on Pinterest. My dear commenters shared my enthusiasm, and one of them, a certain Emily, said she had found the movie online and she sent me the link.
I was SO HAPPY. The movie was online!?! (It still is, so grab your chance to watch it while it's there, folks.) The movie was THERE! I could watch it!?! I told my Dad that I wished VERY much to watch it as soon as possible, and he, being the good chump he is, said, 'Oh let's watch it on Saturday' and I said, 'OKAY YES LETS.' I checked the website every day to see if the movie was still there. I couldn't wait to see it.
And then I saw it!
Now, I warn you in advance, the movie online is very soft. So soft, we thought when we watched the beginning that it had no sound at all (I freaked out in quick disappointment.) Like, you-have-to-lean-close-to-catch-all-the-words soft and a-cough-of-a-fellow-watcher-will-make-you-loose-a-sentence soft. This was pretty difficult and made the movie a bit of a challenge to watch sometimes. I was straining my ears the whole way through.
But YET, I loved it.
It broke my heart. It was beautiful. It made me cry. It was just squeefully adorable and bitterly ending-wrenching-like.
Now, if you don't like sad movies, don't watch the complete movie. Watch the first half, which, in my opinion can be watched as a story on it's own, and stop at the scene where Vera and Roland fly a kite together on the cliffs near the sea, as a newly and happily engaged couple. The first half of the movie is ADORABLE and I just loved it. We watched the first half on Friday and the second half on Saturday, and I can tell you, the ways I went to bed on Friday and on Saturday were very different. On Friday I went to bed with happy feelings, thinking about the darlingness of the movie and pinning pins and gifs of the movie till it was super late. On Saturday I went to bed with knots in my neck and tears in my eyes (but more about that later.)
So yeah, the first half. It's cosy and family-like and romantic and fuzzy-feelsy and you frankly can't do much wrong with having millions of scenes in there stored up in your head.
So, let me talk about the first part of the movie first, okay?
The story is about a young girl, perhaps nineteen, called Vera Brittain. She loves writing and desperately wants to go to Oxford university and reach a proper degree and do what she loves, but, due to being a girl, her parents have difficulty accepting the fact that their daughter is a complete bluestocking. They try to shove her onto the piano and finding-husband-thing instead, but she bluntly says that she won't ever marry. Not now. Not ever. That's pretty clear, isn't it?
Vera has a younger brother, Edmund (more about him later, folks, because he's my favouritest character ever) who often brings his two good Oxford pals with him to home. The three boys, Edmund, Victor and Roland are the kind of slap-on-the-shoulder, play-in-the-mud, gather-around-the-piano, loud, typical hungry kind of lads, and good chums, always laughing a teasing around. I loved their friendship, and the way they are all so gentlemanly to their pal's sister, Vera.
Vera often finds herself hanging around the boys, and she also finds herself attracted to Roland, who's a fellow writer and encourages her to pursue her dreams.
I really love that Roland wasn't this drop-dead handsome hero - he was very kind, funny, and he had a huge sense of duty and love. He was a bit shy, unlike Vera, and oh, their romance was just impossibly squeeful. I loved the scenes where they went out on trips and their big bustly chaperone kept on squishing in between and slapping away any physical contact.
I also love what Roland said to Vera. "You're not odd. Just Interesting." It's a new favourite quote of mine.
Roland was exactly what Vera needed, and vice-versa. Someone who was at her side about her being a writer and an Oxford student, but also someone who made her feel like a lady, someone who looked at her in beautiful ways and loved her. When he tried to put his hand on her shoulder during the cinema, with the chaperone seated between them, I decided I loved him.
He just lovely. And a writer too! That definitely makes him more of a hero, doesn't it?
To be honest, Vera annoyed me a lot in the beginning. I loved and cried with her by the end, but I found her rather cumbersome with her snappy, direct and sigh-ing ways. Of course, she perhaps needed to speak up a bit to get what she wanted, but she could have been a bit more, um, calm, patient.
But I did relate to her when she told a half-stammering, hint-giving Roland with a blunt sigh that she liked clarity, because I do too. And, as I said, by the end she becomes much more likeable, especially when you see what she goes through, and all that. Also she has some very adorable outfits, which helps me to like a person. Apparently. ;-P
I also absolutely loved Victor. My heart just goes out for him. He's so sweet and kind and young and innocent. He reminds me a bit of John Chivery, the way he is quietly in love with Vera and doesn't want to hurt her feelings ever. The way he looks at her with this sweet hopeful glint in his eyes. He's SO DEAR. I just want to hug him.
And when he went and pretended he had a girl, just so Vera wouldn't feel guilty. 'What's her name?' Vera asked, happy and relieved. 'Um, Molly. Yeah. She's keen.' Poor chap.
Edward Brittain, the younger, musically talented pianish, jokester, kind-hearted chump, was my favourite character in the whole movie (followed closely by darling Victor.)
He exactly 'my' kind of guy, you know, adding the unhelpful fact that he's impossibly handsome, especially when in a khaki. I loved, loved, loved he and Vera's brother-sister relationship. I tell you, it's so beautiful. It's my favourite brother-sister relationship I've probably ever seen in a movie. I loved how they teased each other, relied on each other and clung to each other. My favourite Edward-part was when Vera gave him her letter from Oxford (which contained her results) and he read it with a solemn face and said in a solemn voice, 'You got it.' He's such a delightful tease! Such a boy. Such a dear chap. So kind and good and loyal. I loved him. :-)
So yeah, if you're not one for sad endings, stop right after Vera and Roland's engagement scene - which, by the by, is the most adorable thing ever because they sit there and talk about the white dress and the wedding guests and the cake with tears in their eyes, together alone looking from a cliff to the sea underneath. I know. Aww. - and you're good.
Because as you go on, you'll - heh - notice more and more that this movie has a likely chance of breaking your heart. Because, I warn you, it hasn't got a good ending. Not even rather good. You only get a bit of hope - hope from nature, hope from spring - but nothing that will fully satisfy you. Due to the unwantingness of spoilers, I won't tell you WHAT the sad ending is, but if you'll ask me in the comments I will be happy to oblige you with a tear-filled answer.
Because this movie is really SAD. That's a true war-story for you.
Vera's brother, her fiancé, Victor and all the other friends of her brothers all go off to fight. Vera feels she is wasting away her time and work in Oxford between all the rows and rows of books, and she goes and becomes a nurse. She sees how the war affects lives. She sees the endless lists of names of passed loved-ones in the newspaper. She becomes more broken and broken and sadder and sadder every day.
It's like the world is peeling off at her sides and she can't do anything to keep her loved ones safe.
Vera ends up having to care for a bunch of wounded Germans. She sees how they cry and talk about their mothers and loved ones just like the English soldiers do. She sees them die too. She sees fields and fields of wounded men, English or German, it doesn't matter. They are all the same, she learns. They all have loved ones, and they all have feelings. They all have a right to live, all the same.
There was this one scene that got me the most. When she goes and looks between the dead bodies to find her brother and realises he is, in fact still alive. She manages to nurse him back to life and she rocks him in his arms as he cries about all the things he had seen. Vera sees how this war is affecting the lives of these young men - many just teenagers. How they shiver and have thoughts that haunt and depress them.
Man, are you crying yet?
This movie made me weep. My heart was crying and my eyes were a definite wet. I was in need of tissues, especially afterwards, when I re-and-re-thought about the movie in my bed. I imagined what it would be like to say goodbye to my brother, or my father, or my cousin. Or my fiancé (not that I have one, I just imagined it and I happen to have a rather good one. Imagination. Not fiancé.) I mean just THINK. How horrible would it be if you know that every time the postman comes, or the telephone rings it might tell you that one of those lads you have so many memories of and love for might be dead?!
This movie made me really realise what a huge thing that war was. It's definitely a Testament of Youth. Such a sudden death, or change of life, at such a young age!
Wow. I just am stunned by how this movie is made and I highly recommend it.
I was also very pleased with how family-friendly it was, as other people have mentioned. There was perhaps a taaaad to many kisses to my taste (let's just say my brother started talking about random things whenever they kissed) and, of course, there are wounds and dead people (I turned my head twice, just because) but I think it's more of a 12+ movie than a 13+ movie, to be honest. It's extremely good.
The scenery was absolutely, utterly gorgeous, even on the small dusty laptop screen we watched it on. I just want to LIVE where the Brittain's live (in Britain, haha.) And the scenery around Roland's house (who, by the way, has a mother who was acted by Caroline Bingley which made me squeal) was AMAHZING too, with the seaside brushing and waving underneath the green cliffs. Also, the scenery of the lovely brown buildings at Oxford made me sigh.
And the interiors were impossibly gorgeous! I basically want Vera's bedroom - it's so pretty. And the library at Oxford!!! PLEASE. It's just impossible how gorgeous the library there was. *thud*
The costumes were BEAUTIFUL and 100% accurate. They reminded me a lot of the Downton Abbey costumes. In fact, I spotted that Vera wore two Edith's blouses in Series Two. Like, hello Vera, that's EDITH'S wardrobe, not yours! :-) Haha. Look, the one she's wearing in that picture above is the same as this one, and she also wore this one.
Also, all the other girls at Oxford were so deliciously late-Edwardian, with their blouses and low buns or long braids, and their shirt-waists and ties. They reminded me of pictures like this and this and this. There was a lot of costume-envy from my side, suffice to say. Especially when Vera's beautiful pink dress came on show. I'm talking about the pink dress in the first picture of this post. (Yes, do scroll up to have a better look. I'll wait.)
HIGHLY recommended. But don't say I didn't warn you about crying, okay?
*goes away with a knot in her neck*