Life is a simple song
Classic Elsternwick, Sunday 13 December 2015, 4:00pm
Running time: 124m
Country: Italy, France, Switzerland, UK
Release date: 26/12/15
Rating: 8.5/10 (ME 4.5/5, DP 4/5)
Paolo Sorrentino's second English-language film Youth is a tour de force of quirky unconventional cinema. Following on from the award-winning success of The Great Beauty, Sorrentino has created a surreal film driven by theme rather than plot. Sorrentino is a filmmaker of extraordinary vision, making up his own rules before deliberately breaking them. There are threads of plots holding it all together (the retired composer battling his demons, the film director finishing his latest script, the daughter suffering heartbreak) but the themes of ageing, dying and a mourning for youth generate the narrative.
The performances are layered and rich, helped by a script that is clever, poignant and restrained. Michael Caine as retired composer Fred Ballinger provides the focal point for the bizarre mix of characters. Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, Paul Dano and Jane Fonda (yes, really) form part of an ensemble of high-calibre actors that make it easy to enter this surreal and disturbing world. The dialogue is clever (the diatribe on filmmaking delivered by Fonda's Brenda Morel is particularly insightful) but the gaps between are just as important. The visuals are stunning beyond the picturesque locations and the use of light and symmetry goes from comic to bizarre in the blink of an eye.
Music is also an important part of the plot and permeates the film as a character all of its own. The film's musical finale is delightfully moving and it's worth staying through the closing credits just to savour every piece of it. This film won't appeal to all viewers, but if you delight in films that push the boundaries of contemporary cinema you will find it an unforgettable experience. Recommended. (ME)
88th Academy Awards
73rd Golden Globe Awards