First of all I’m a newcomer to Paolo Sorrentino’s work. Secondly, and as a personal rule, I adore smart and perceptive explorations into the individual worlds that circle our everyday lives. As an initial summary, I was transfixed by Youth in both its content and, specifically, a tremendous and captivating turn from Michael Caine, an actor who is unassuming but gracious in his performance.
Events take place in a plush, posh Hotel in the Alps against the sweeping backdrop of Switzerland that is the canvas on which Youth paints itself. Caine takes on the character of Fred, a retired composer who’s on holiday with his oldest friend Mick (Harvey Keitel). While the latter works on his final movie with an assemblage of young film-makers and actors, Fred is taking the time away to relax and reflect on his 80-something years that went before him.
As the two enjoy their stay, the film is interspersed with moments of them discussing their children’s lives, mainly because Fred’s daughter Lena (the truly excellent Rachel Weisz) is married to Mick’s son but during their visit – the couple break up. While Fred watches his kin begin to unravel in the loss of her marriage, Mick has almost expected his son to do something stupid and thus the friends remain connected. Because their friendship is so close, they both try to help Lena realise her own potential. Youth isn’t exclusively about the ‘old friends’ relationship, as we also meet Paul Dano as young, upcoming actor Jimmy, who’s researching a role. Dano is exemplary again and his character is obviously watching and learning from all that’s happening around him in order to prepare for a role that’s revealed in the latter third of the film. Caine is tremendous, there’s no better way to put it, as he contemplates his life and is captivating to watch. Keitel offers up his natural gravitas and Weisz brings forth her ever-impressing talent and adds another star turn to her resume.
Youth isn’t one of those ‘buddy’ outings though, it’s far from the fast-paced environment that many major & mainstream pictures head towards these days with a deftly paced, intelligent comment on getting older and the younger generation. With effortless over-lacing scenes, the cinematography in each individual moment is considerately placed before us in both a metaphorical and figurative sense.
Encompassed with fine humour and sadness, Youth drifts beautifully in-between the ions of Fred’s life as he looks back and tries to keep an eye on the future, but the story isn’t really about the past because I felt it celebrated life in its purest form, that of contemplation and reflection of all the good things that come our way and it’s filmed sumptuously. Enjoy and explore it, that’s the ultimate way to experience this short time we have.
Youth is available to digitally download today, and on Blu-ray and DVD on 30th May.