Monday 7 March 2016

Film: 'Youth'

Loved this to bits, though I regretfully doubt whether it will have very wide appeal.
After getting a paltry, restricted release some weeks ago I was pleased to have a chance to catch it at a one-off, belated, special screening this morning - and, boy, was I lucky!

Michael Caine, a retired classical conductor/composer, and Harvey Keitel, a continuingly active film director, have been close friends for decades, and are now together at a health resort in Switzerland catering for all ages with large staff contingent, therapists and assistants. Caine is accompanied by his daughter (Rachel Weisz) who has been dating Keitel's son.. Also staying as temporary resident is Paul Dano, star of Keitel's current film, as well as its team of scriptwriters.
In addition, there's a late appearance from Jane Fonda, whom I disgracefully failed to recognise until seeing her name in the final credits. Oh, and there's one Paloma Faith 'doing her thing', as well as a bit of acting too.
Most of the dialogue is discursive conversation between the two male leads, reflecting on the past, relationships and on life generally - as well as commentaries on the lives of their respective offspring. Their exchanges are sometimes amusing, sometimes poignant.

Knowing what this film was about, I had serious doubts that Caine could credibly pull off playing someone with such a sophisticated background, his characters more often than not seeming to be the antithesis of a sophisticate. But I have to admit that I was agreeably surprised to find that he nails it perfectly.

In some respects it's quite a stylised, 'arty-type' film - occasional statuesque poses, non-sequiturs, unexplained puzzling images, silences - but in no way did all that trouble me. It melded into a very satisfactory whole. Photography throughout, especially of the alpine scenery, is top-notch.  

Director/writer Paolo Sorrentino has had considerable experience in both these fields, though none of his previous projects have exactly set the film-world alight. This one deserves to set that right.

My only real reservation was that there were a few moments in the script where the obvious was needlessly stated, where I felt that a simple silence would have carried more weight. But that's a relatively minor quibble.

This is the first film I've seen this year for which I have reasonable confidence in its appearing in my ultimate Top 10 of 2015, and I accordingly award it a rather rare..............................8.


  1. I am so glad you loved this, I loved it to bits too, but hardly anyone else has seen it. And the one person I know who has seen it told me she HATED it(caps intended, she was so vehement.) I thought it was brilliant as well as being a joy to look at.

    1. I think, Judith, that it's a film that will be very highly appreciated by a small minority but maybe more just won't get it, which will be a shame. I think it deserves to be widely lauded though it's only had very modest publicity. I actually can see why some might 'hate' it (big word!), though I think such people would feel the same about a lot of films which, like this, wears its 'artfulness' on its sleeve. I'm in no way ashamed that I loved it.

  2. PS: saw "Brooklyn" last week, loved it to bits as well!

    1. Yes, it's a film that lingers in the memory. I'd love to see it again - and am still being haunted by the fact that I didn't choose it to be in my year's best ten. It's lingering in my mind more than one or two which I had included.

  3. Ohhh this one looks like a good one! An 8! wow

    Hope you are well

  4. Well it had strong appeal for me, Sol, a large part of my pleasure being due to its being unexpected. I do hope you get to see it.

    All fine here, thanks (though worries increasing about Blackso). Hope you're okay too.