Testament (1983) - Rotten Tomatoes


Testament (1983)



Critic Consensus: Testament shrugs off budget limitations to tell a powerful story that anchors nuclear paranoia in one family's harrowing ordeal.

Testament Photos

Movie Info

Director Lynne Littman has created an effective, understated portrayal of the cost of a nuclear war in human terms, in a film as far removed from the fake hyperbole of action and disaster movies as the natural world is from cartoons. Set in the small California town of Hamlin, the Wetherly family and their everyday concerns open the story. The trivia that fills their secure, ordinary existence disappears when a TV show is interrupted with the announcement that nuclear bombs have exploded in the major cities on the East Coast, and then the entire scene is erased in an increasingly white, blank movie screen -- meant to show that nuclear blasts have been detonated in California as well. Over 1000 people die in the first month from radiation sickness, but the mother in the Wetherly family (Jane Alexander) displays great inner strength as she cares for orphaned children the family has taken under its wing and goes on sustaining those that remain in her own family. At one point, she quietly conveys to her daughter the happiness of intimacy between two adults, knowing her daughter will not live to experience adult love. As these individuals and the children cope with day-to-day existence, there is never any intrusion of overt horrors, the focus remains on the individuals and the way in which they adjust to the inevitable.

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Jane Alexander
as Carol Wetherly
William Devane
as Tom Wetherly
Ross Harris
as Brad Wetherly
Roxana Zal
as Mary Liz Wetherly
Lukas Haas
as Scottie Wetherly
Leon Ames
as Henry Abhart
Lurene Tuttle
as Rosemary Abhart
Rebecca De Mornay
as Cathy Pitkin
Kevin Costner
as Phil Pitkin
as Mike
J. Brennan Smith
as Billdocker
Lesley Woods
as Lady Mayor
Wayne Heffley
as Police Chief
David Nichols
as Worried Man
Gary Bayer
as Angry Man
Martin Rudy
as Dr. Jenson
Jamie Abbott
as Boy Mayor
Rocky Krakoff
as Pied Piper
Clete Roberts
as Newscaster
Jesse Wayne
as Man in Line
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Critic Reviews for Testament

All Critics (45) | Top Critics (21)

There's nothing impersonal about this movie. Nothing unbelievable, either, if you believe the human animal has a core of righteousness that can shine like a sun when everything else has been lost.

May 10, 2021 | Rating: 8/10 | Full Review…

[Testament] is a haunting, emotionally devastating movie.

May 10, 2021 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Towering over every other performance is Jane Alexander's Carol Wetherly. It is a side of Alexander that no one has caught before, not even in her finest work.

May 10, 2021 | Full Review…

It's a simple and resourceful film and one that has been made with unmistakable conviction.

May 10, 2021 | Full Review…

It is impossible not to be affected or frightened by Testament.

May 10, 2021 | Full Review…

It can sober and depress, certainly; but often it does uplift.

May 10, 2021 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Testament

Testament is open forgotten about in the rather small canon on films that depict nuclear disaster and for good reason..it's good but it pales in comparison to the edgier Threads in capturing likely actions after a nuclear blast.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

Very understated drama about the aftermath of a nuclear war. This film is the direct opposite of The Day After and has no flashy special effects, no explosions, scenes of mass devastation and so on. Instead the focus is on an American suburban family which has to contend with the inevitable effects of World War III. Testament shows very effectively the possible reality of what would have happened to any small town in America if a nuclear attack had happened in the early eighties. Jane Alexander does a great job as the mother trying to keep her family together during the beginning of the end. I would recommend this movie for the serious movie watcher who is looking for more substance and drama from a movie rather than action and suspense. Remember to recycle your batteries. Photobucket

El Hombre Invisible
El Hombre Invisible

Super Reviewer

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