Testament | Chicago Reader

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90 minutes · 1983

Drama, War
The movies have traditionally treated nuclear war either as a premise for adventure (Damnation Alley) or propaganda (On the Beach); it is director Lynne Littman's innovation (a tiny one) to treat it here as family melodrama—a sort of “Ordinary People Get Nuked.” Focusing on one family in a small northern California town that seems to have survived an initial attack, Littman quickly loses interest in the logic of the concept (the naturalistic presentation of an unnatural event) and begins pushing the sentimental pornography of death—this is a movie in which every character is a Camille. The claustrophobic visual plan and reliance on false climaxes betray the film's origins as a TV movie (it was produced with the financial participation of PBS). With Jane Alexander, mannered and irritating in her creased-browed compassion, and William Devane (1983).

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