Take a Drink: for musical sequences
Take a Drink: for dreams and nightmares
Take a Drink: for spa activities
Take a Drink: for the ravages of time
Do a Shot: for hearty doses of magic realism
By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
Paolo Sorrentino is one of the most underratedly odd prestige directors working today. The Great Beauty got him his Oscar, and his Fellini comparisons, and many assumed that Youth was his English-language version of that success. After all, it’s about an aging artist confronting the ennui and bittersweet beauty of the passage of time in a photogenic location. Well…
Original Caption: “Youth is weird, y’all.”
Second Caption: “Why are the only images I can find of this movie from this scene?”
Michael Caine stars as renowned composer wiling away his days at a Swiss resort alongside his best friend/legendary director (Harvey Keitel) and his soon to be heartbroken daughter (Rachel Weisz) all while trying to avoid the Queen’s desire for him to conduct his most famous (and simple) composition, which he has very personal reasons not to.
Sorrentino is one of the most visually precise and creative directors working on the planet today, and the Alpine setting and frequent dream sequences are great fodder for his lush, gorgeous imagery. There’s a rich vein of magic realism in the film, which when combined with Sorrentino’s infectious sense of humor yields unique results.
Sorrentino is not afraid of going lowbrow or ribald- this is no typical prestige pic- but there’s something about how he melds the beautiful and the profane in his gently meandering scripts that produces founts of real emotion and little grace notes that leave you with the feeling you’ve witnessed something profound.
Caine & Keitel are obviously deeply affected in this scene.
Youth fits right in with the best of his canon, but differentiates itself not just in particulars of plot but also the way the film is suffused with music of all types, and how Caine & Keitel’s relationship reflects the central theme of the fears and follies of aging. Caine in particular hasn’t had a vehicle this good in at least a decade, if not two. Do not be surprised if Oscar comes knocking.
Not all of the humor lands, and not all of the performances are on the same register. Weisz doesn’t fare so well with a character who spends the majority of the film crying or whining, and the plot takes some strange avenues not all viewers will enjoy. The dialogue is very literary, which is code for often failing to sound anything like something a real person would say. Finally, the conflicts in this film are about as White People Problems as they can get.
Yep, sounds like a Sorrentino film.
Youth is most definitely uneven, in that lovably Paolo Sorrentino way, and jam-packed with style and ambition and grace, in that impressively Paolo Sorrentino way.