We don’t need movies to tell us war is hell. But at their best, they humanize its unfathomable losses in a way that history books never quite can. Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina) stars as real-life memoirist Vera Brittain, a privileged young Englishwoman whose idyllic world is shattered by the onset of WWI.
It might take a moment to recognize Kit Harington and Alicia Vikander—Game of Thrones’ medieval Jon Snow and Ex Machina’s plastic Ava, respectively—in Testament of Youth, what with their period, Downton Abbey-style garb. Vikander plays Vera Brittain, the independent free-thinker whose life and 1933 best-selling memoir is the basis of the film. As a young woman, Vera challenges society and her family’s expectations and goes to Oxford to study literature and became a writer.
Even when he’s not playing Jon Snow, Kit Harington is blindly pledging his life to the greater good and engaging in a futile conflict.
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