Despite the social constraints of her time and the disapproval of her parents, Vera Brittain (Vikander) succeeds in getting in to Oxford University. But with the outbreak of World War I, her world is swiftly transformed. Her beloved brother Edward (Egerton) and fiancé Roland (Harington) are sent to the front lines. She decides to leave Oxford and enrolls as a military nurse, serving on the bloody battlefields of France.
Adapted from the first of Brittain’s three memoirs, this wartime drama combines epic scope with intimate autobiography. Swedish actress Vikander’s charismatic performance evokes Brittain’s fierce independence, conveying both steeliness and a measure of vulnerability. Wrenching scenes in hospitals and insurmountable tragedy help explain Brittain’s later ardent pacifism. Beautifully shot, with an excellent cast, Kent’s directorial restraint results in an elegant, resonant, and sobering piece of filmmaking.