Review: ‘Youth’ Has Fun But Gets Old Quick
Paolo Sorrentino’s gorgeously shot ‘Youth’ brings together veteran film icons Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel as a duo of old friends on a spa retreat in Switzerland, but a lingering drabness will ultimately leave audiences underwhelmed.
‘Youth’ tells a nuanced tale of two old friends at a spa retreat in the Swiss Alps. Oscar award winning actor Michael Caine takes on the lead role as Fred, a highly accomplished conductor and composer, who is joined by Rachel Weisz as his daughter Harvey Keitel, his best friend and renowned filmmaker. Fred and Mick muse, ponder and reflect on life all the while Mick hurriedly prepares, what he considers to be, his masterwork screenplay for what will likely be his last relevant film. Fred, on the other hand, is plagued with dissillusion and has since given up on rekindling his once blazing musical career. The film ultimately tracks the pair of aging men as they not only reflect on their past, but ultimately learn that some of the most important experiences they will face in life are not all in the past.
Cinematics (Cinematography, Acting, etc.) – 4
Contrary to its title, ‘Youth’ targets anything but, basking in post mid-life reflection and coming from a heavily male point of view. The film plays more of a visual love story, centered on the breathtaking Swiss landscapes first and story second. By no means is this a bad film. Actually, the acting, as would expect from such and A-list cast, is quite good. The problem is that director Paolo Sorrentino chooses a theme and tone that may more so appeal to those, how should I put this, with advanced age. A good part of the first act revolves around introspection and discussion about the two lead characters past and present ambitions. Not to cheapen the experience, but think the conceptual value of the ‘Bucket List’ with a visual splendor like that of ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’ (minus the Wes Anderson-isms of course). Basically, it’s like a more nuanced European version of ‘Grumpy Old Men,’ a buddy comedy of sorts between two aging artists.
Michael Caine continues to provide solid acting work, although his time in big Hollywood blockbusters has engrained him with a semi-generic persona. Harvey Keitel’s character is sort of interesting, but I never fully identify with either character. Again, I perceive this to be a function of my disconnect with their advanced age versus the quality of the acting or story. Special due should be given to Paul Dano and Jane Fonda, who although had smaller roles, added a tremendous value to the film’s character but also were instrumental in effectively moving the plot forward.
While it may at times seem overt and even belabored, the film’s does tackle a world on the divide of old and new. The conventions of the past being lost to new trends and the struggle of those trying to remain relevant in an industry fueled ‘Youth.’
‘Youth’ is a film, it is cinema. Sorrentino, who won the Oscar for ‘The Great Beauty,’ is both purposeful and artful. Every moment is drenched with breathtaking scenery, as the film itself was gorgeously shot by Luca Bigazzi. Add a mesmerizing score by David Lang, the film shows an ardent intonation with arthouse cinema.
Entertainment Value – 3
The film is much of a quiet storm of drama with ample comedic dentures, usually born from situations versus jokes. For that reason the film is above average in its ability to entertain.
The focal point of the film, however, is definitely is visual display. While I would say that this could also fall under cinematic value, the landscape shots and camera work was so appearing, it was often the most entertaining part of the film.
There are no special effects and big set pieces here, no ‘Youth’ will appeal to audiences through good old fashioned dialogue, acting and chemistry between the ensemble of top-tier talent. While I maintain that and audiences ‘Youth’ experience will hinge upon where their personally fall on the age spectrum, I cannot deny Sorrentino’s cinematically artful and wholly well-acted product.
Re-Watchability – 3
While I don’t fully identify with the film’s core theme, The quality of visual craftsmanship, acting in the queue of talent involved with this film would likely merit a future revisitation.
Blu-Ray – 3
With a few special features, the ‘Youth’ Blu-Ray release gives a little more insight into the artfulness of the film with an interesting Musical and Score featurette, a photo gallery as as well as commentary by director Paolo Sorrentino. The case presentation itself is clean and the Blu-Ray disc itself goes beyond the generic with a full-color printed cover.
Watch FilmFad’s unboxing video for Paolo Sorrentino’s ‘Youth’ on Blu-Ray.
There are no special effects and big set pieces here, no 'Youth' will appeal to audiences through good old fashioned dialogue, acting and chemistry between the ensemble of top-tier talent. While I maintain that and audiences 'Youth' experience will hinge upon where their personally fall on the age spectrum, I cannot deny Sorrentino's cinematically artful and wholly well-acted product.