Youth directed by Paolo Sorrentino is the story of two friends; Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel) and Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine) who meet annually at a spa in a secluded part of the Alps to rejuvenate and hold onto their youth.
Mick still works as a film director whereas Fred is a retired composer who is being gentled conjoled into coming out of retirement to conduct his masterpiece – Simple Songs – for none other than the Queen.
Youth is a masterful representation of someone who wants to transmit his love for the medium of film. What does that mean exactly? Precisely! Just like in the film you don’t need to understand everything in order to make sense of it. There are scenes interjected such as; the dancing chambermaid or Miss World slowly descending into the swimming pool or even the opera singer eating fried chicken held delicately by her white gloved hands. Even the main cast of supporting actors played so expertly by Rachel Weisz, Paul Dano and even Paloma Faith are all there to show the audience another side of the main actors; Harvey Keitel and Michael Caine. Do not watch them and try and find meaning in their story – the daughter who’s being cheated on by her husband. Her role is exposition: to show the egotistical nature of her father so just as you start to feel sorry for the old man Paolo shows you a different side.
The dialogue is crisp and expertly observed. This from the man who gave us This Must Be The Place with Sean Penn as an ageing rocker and again he looks at ageing and what is the meaning of youth. Yes it may be wasted on the young but the real eye opener is whilst the body may wither the mind remains sharp. As for the performances, this is one of Michael Caine’s best performance ever. Somehow Sorrentino manages to get Caine to show his all on screen. One other stand out performance is that of Jane Fonda. She’s blisteringly hot on screen like the the midday sun.
This is a glorious feast for the eyes and ears. The symphony played in the film, simple songs, is nominated for an Oscar. It is the sort of the film where you must allow the musical score to wash over you like waves lapping on the beach whilst your eyes bathe in the colours on screen. It is certainly a film that could be watched again and again to pick up the nuances that are missed during the initial viewing.
Youth opened in cinemas across the UK on 29 January.
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