The lights will come on again!


The ByTowne is now closed. But there's good news!

After the pandemic has been brought under control,
new management will take over the space and the ByTowne will re-open.

It may take a while for pandemic restrictions to be eased enough
that a feasible number of patrons can be allowed to watch a movie again,
but the new owners are working towards that day.

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Testament Of Youth

Divided by war. United by love.

War is coming. You can feel the impending heartache even as this story opens with youthful frolics in the river. The story is that of famed pacifist Vera Brittain, whose Testament Of Youth is one of the few published First World War memoirs from a woman’s hand – a narrative that has encouraged successive generations to keep striving for their dreams even as they slip from view.

Poster art for Testament Of YouthThis adaptation is the feature debut from documentary-maker James Kent who introduces Vera (Alicia Vikander), and the young men in her life, during an Edwardian summer under sun-bright skies. Vera fights for her place at Oxford; she wins. She meets the dashing Roland (Kit Harington), they swap poetry and she fights for their love; she wins. Everything seems wonderful. Except, of course, it’s not. There is war in Europe and the menfolk enlist; everybody loses.

We know what will happen. The surprise lies not in their fate but in Vera’s tenacious response. She surrenders a hard-fought university place and her dreams of a writer’s life to nurse victims of battle, first at home and then at the front. English or German, she has compassion for all. Vera is an absorbing character and Vikander’s is a compelling portrayal. Vikander came to attention in A Royal Affair and as Kitty in Anna Karenina. Here she doesn’t so much catch the eye as dazzle it, exuding an emotional intelligence that far outstrips her years.

Some moments from Vera’s life are familiar to moviegoers. Lovers at the railway station, the outsider among the Dreaming Spires, an amusing chaperone, a war to end before Christmas, a corrupted wedding day, a bad news phone-call – these vignettes populate dozens of dramas and can nudge even the oldest and most honest tales into the realm of melodrama. Kent’s film, which at times must skirt the boundary, never crosses the line.

– Will Lawrence, Empire

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