“The harder they push, the more grateful I am.” So says an inexperienced but resolute Vera Brittain (Alicia Vikander) as she struggles with the demands of her nursing superiors at the outbreak of World War One. Belittled by Niamh Cusack’s officious Sister Jones, the “ivory towers” of a privileged upbringing will crumble and fall as the horrors of experiencing the Great War irrevocably change the young woman, putting her on a path towards pacifism and, most notably, writing. A nostalgic but heartfelt period piece, this adaptation of Brittain’s wartime memoirs is the story of an indomitable spirit and proof of the old adage that what does not kill you will make you stronger. 

When I was 12 or 13 I was in London for the day with a friend, and our respective mothers, seeing the sights with exchange students from Vancouver whom we were hosting. Naturally, Buckingham Palace was high on our list and as we walked away from Queen Liz’s down The Mall, we came across a Pride parade.