Vera Brittain is an extraordinarily talented young woman who battles the odds to land herself a scholarship at Oxford University despite the attitudes of all the people around her frowning upon her desire to enter into a career in literature. Her life becomes even more promising when she falls for her brother's best friend Roland Leighton. However, the war is becoming ever closer and he is forced to abandon his own prestigious studies in favour of the frontline. Filled with grief over Roland's life-threatening circumstances, she decides to make the decision of a lifetime and leave her dreams behind. Instead, she decides to volunteer as a nurse for the sea of wounded troops that are yet to pour back into the country. Even as all that she holds dear are quickly annihilated by the vicious First World War, her determination keeps her focused on making the best of such horrors.
Continue: Testament of Youth
Remarkably bleak for a teen movie, this drama keeps us gripped as it throws its characters into an odyssey that's seriously harrowing. Gifted filmmaker Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland) and a fine young cast make sure that we feel every punch of emotion along the way. And the premise itself gets our minds spinning in unusual directions.
Set in the present day, violent uprisings are growing in Europe as 16-year-old Daisy (Ronan) heads from New York to Britain to spend the summer with her Aunt Penn (Chancellor) on a farm in rural Wales. A sullen loner, she tries to avoid her three chirpy cousins: the quiet genius Eddie (MacKay) is her age, while the more adventurous Isaac (Holland) is 14 and the younger Piper (Bird) is clingy and annoying. Then while Penn is away on business, the violence spreads to the UK, which descends into martial law. The cousins are divided and sent into care. But they promise to meet back at the farm, which is going to be an epic journey for Daisy and Piper if they can escape from their new home.
The story is told from Daisy's perspective, complete with glimpses into her troubled thoughts, dreams and nightmares. We're never sure why she is so deeply fearful of everything around her, but Ronan brings out her fragile mental state beautifully, then takes us along as Daisy is pushed to the limits and must find the inner strength to go forward. As a result, the other characters remain less-defined, although MacKay and Holland bring layers of interest to Eddie and Isaac. As Daisy's companion, Bird is much more present on-screen, and we're as irritated by her as Daisy is.
Continue reading: How I Live Now Review
Saoirse Ronan stars in 'How I Live Now', a gripping adaptation of the prize winning novel of the same name by Meg Rosoff. Despite being defined as a children's or young adult's book, the adaptation portrays the horrific and damaging effect war causes on human relationships and the effect it has on an individual, captivating a much wider demographic.
What starts out as a romanticised coming-of-age, feel good film between two lovers takes a dramatic turn when war breaks out in a remote country village in England where lead character Daisy is visiting. Her recently found love with Edmond is unexpectedly tested when they are forced to part. The couple love is put to the test as they are unsure if they will ever be reunited.
The film stars Saoirse (The Lovely Bones, Hanna) as Daisy and George MacKay (Defiance, Peter Pan) as Edmond and is directed by Academy Award winning Director: Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland, One Day in September).
Continue: How I Live Now
The late playwright Noël Coward's play, Private Lives, has made the jump to the prestigious London West End.
Described as a 'comedy of manners' - a play that satirises different echelons of the social ladder - Noël Coward's 1930 three-act play centres on Elyot (Toby Stephens) and Amanda (Anna Chancellor) who have been divorced for five years when they run into each other again whilst on honeymoon with their new spouses. The coincidental encounter reignites the divorcee's former passion irrespective of the marital issues they previously had, or the feelings of their current partners.
Director Jonathon Kent Likens Private Lives To An Exquisite Fabergé Egg.
The play had a successful run at Chichester's Festival theatre, lampooning the glamorous and reckless lives of the rich and will now, according to the theatre's website, "blaze across the West End stage this summer in an explosive production that proves Noël Coward still has the power to thrill, provoke and delight." Accomplished British lead actors Anna Chancellor (Four Weddings and a Funeral) and Toby Stephens (Die Another Day) are praised by The Telegraph for the "sense of unbuttoned intimacy and desire" between them in a "superb production [that] feels forever young, fresh and delightful."
Continue reading: Noël Coward's 'Private Lives' Hits The West End