Aging actors Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel star in a new movie called YOUTH, an English language film from Paolo Sorrentino, the Italian director whose film THE GREAT BEAUTY won the Oscar last year for best foreign film.
His new film is a collection of uneven melancholy vignettes about two old men: a musical conductor and a film director.
Unfortunately, in spite of fine acting, beautiful cinematography, and a lovely musical score, YOUTH is more pretentious than it is profound.
“At my age, getting back in shape is merely a waste of time” says Michael Caine as Fred Ballinger, a retired composer and conductor who’s spending time in a luxury hotel and spa in the Alps. He’s more or less done with life and refuses all requests to perform even for the Queen of England.
Ballinger: I will not conduct my Simple Songs.
Emissary: Why not?
Ballinger: Personal reasons.
His old friend, Mick Boyle (the filmmaker played by Harvey Keitel), is also at the hotel, working with a group of young writers to make one last movie called LIFE’S LAST DAY.
Boyle: It’s going to be a masterpiece, my testament.
The two men hang out a lot and talk about everything from their urinary problems to former lovers. Neither is happy, and over the course of the film, the important women in their lives show us why. Rachel Weisz is Ballinger’s daughter, Lena.
Lena: Music, music, music. There was nothing else in your life. Only music. An aridness.
And even now, the apathetic Ballinger’s only pleasure seems to be “conducting” the sounds he hears in a cow pasture.
Whereas Mick is still hoping that the actress he made 11 movies with will star in his latest work. But Jane Fonda, as Brenda, turns him down.
Mick: You look fabulous, the very picture of radiance and sex appeal.
Brenda: You’re getting mixed up with the last millennium, Mick.
The contrast between youth and age is everywhere in this movie. One of the best scenes occurs when Mike tries to explain the big difference between the two to his writers. He has one of them come up to look through a telescope on a balcony.
Mick: “Come look; this is what you see when you’re young. Everything seems really close.”
(A mountain appears in close up.)
“And now” (turning the telescope around so that the person looks through it the opposite way), “that’s what you see when you’re old. Everything seems really far away.”
(Everything appears small and at great distance from the camera.)
YOUTH is an art film with a capital “A.” Film buffs may like it, but mainstream audiences will likely find it off-putting.
Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now. firstname.lastname@example.org