Youth, from director Paolo Sorrentino, is another visually lush and expressive mood piece from this extremely thoughtful filmmaker. Concentrating on the artistic process (both internally and externally), male camaraderie, long lost love, and above all else, the notion of vanity and one’s own life slowly slipping away, perhaps the film was too slow and melancholy for some, or too introspective for others. And while ultimately it might not shed any new light on its often explored themes, the entire package feels uniquely fresh and in awe of its own sense of cinematic richness. Similar to his previous effort, The Great Beauty, Youth has an almost ADD quality to the skipping narrative and to the intoxicating visuals, with Sorrentino adopting an almost Malickian sense of random intimacy, and his skilled cinematographer Luca Bigazzi capturing the exquisite Swiss Alps countryside in all its 2.35:1 widescreen glory. Anchored by a tender and soulful performance by Michael Caine and supported strongly by a wise Harvey Keitel, an emotionally frazzled Rachel Weisz, and a scene stealing, Kabuki-esque Jane Fonda, Youth explores a 50+ year friendship between a famed maestro (Caine) and a storied Hollywood filmmaker (Keitel), who take a vacation together at an ultra-luxury resort and come into contact with an interesting array of people, all of whom dredge up memories from the past, and help to set the course for the future.
I never expected the big whammy moment that comes at the top of the third act, Caine really brings it during the home stretch, the various bouts of visual whimsy and fantasy were beyond stylish and well integrated into the main story, and Weisz cut a painful portrait of a scorned woman who is looking to overcome some serious personal sadness. I was reminded, yet again, how much I love her as an actress, as she possesses a striking combination of sexiness and vulnerability, not to mention having some of the best dramatic chops in the industry; one monologue in particular should have netted her more awards talk (if that sort of thing is to be taken seriously…). The eclectic musical score by David Lang sets a playful yet pensive tone right from the start, and it was definitely fun to see Paul Dano with a fake moustache, to say nothing of his late in the game, um, transformation. Youth premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and competed for the Palme d’Or, and received a miniscule theatrical release this past December; I saw the film courtesy of a Region B Italian Blu-ray. Youth was shot at the Waldhaus Flims resort, and from what I read, the entire cast and crew stayed there during filming. Tough life.
Written by Nick Clement