In Praise of the Praiseworthy

I, like so many others, first saw this perfect specimen in Anna Karenina where she played the youthful and lovely Kitty. And boy was I smitten. I still don’t understand how someone can perfectly embody human emotion with such ease, but Alicia Vikander does it and does it wonderfully. I then went on my cinematic way, keeping her career in my peripheral vision. Then one day, on the eve of the hundredth anniversary of WWI, I saw the first trailer for Testament of Youth. The next day I went to the nearest bookstore and bought a copy of Vera Brittain’s memoir of the same title (and which the film is based on). This movie shook me to my core. The chemistry, the dialogue, the accuracy, the color, the light! I’ll talk about the perfection that is Testament of Youth and Vera Brittain some other time- but for now, back to Ms. Vikander.

I have now consumed every available bit of content surrounding this woman and can truly say she is royalty. Well, not literally, but she is as perfect as us commoners get. (Actually, my sister send me a text after misreading an article title which led her to believe Alicia Vikander was secretly royalty. Our response was not suprise, but immediate exceptance and a desire to live in that blessed country of her ruling). She has an ability to capture the soul of her character and bravely reaches into the depths of herself to give the audience an authentic experience of what a Russian princess or WWI nurse would feel. She is like a refreshing breeze to Hollywood, and it’s so exciting to watch her support grow. Out of the way Jennifer Lawrence! Who even is Emma Watson? Anna Kenderick, Schmanna Schmenderick! Alicia Vikander knows a million languages, has starred opposite Domhnall Gleeson twice, AND is a ballerina!

I think one of the most admirable things about Vikander is her list of projects she has been a part of. This to me is always the riskiest trait to admire in an actor, because in the blink of an eye they can choose to do The Host (Byzantium, Violet and Daisy, take your pick) and you’re left muttering about the good old days of Hanna and Atonement. In spite of the risk though I will continue to praise Vikander for her outstanding repertoire- which includes foreign films like Pure, A Royal Affair, Hotell. And of course domestic movies like the gripping Ex Machina, which has catapulted the actress into much deserved praise.

I can’t really make any claims about her personal character, she’s as kind as any actress can portray in interviews. But she seems to really care about the craft, which shows by the projects she is involved in. I have so much respect for her, not only for finding incredible success outside of her mother tongue, but also for her beautiful portrayals of strong and complex women.

(I still love you Saoirse, How I Live Now is spectacular.)

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