For Reel

Youth (2015)
November 23, 2015, 8:52 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Paolo Sorrentino
2.5 Stars
YouthThe Oscar-winning Fellini knockoff The Great Beauty attracted some mainstream attention due to its sheer visual extravagance, but even supporters of the film didn’t make much of a case for the film’s thematic and philosophical content–it is a glossy spectacle, something to gape at. If Youth has some similarly striking images, it is dead on arrival due to its doubling down on cliche sentimentalities and an unmistakable air of self-importance. Every scene in the film is played as a climax–Sorrentino can go big, but in a film that deals in more minor keys than The Great Beauty, the form runs away from him in a series of increasingly over-directed, under-conceived sequences. The script often espouses that music is a universal language and carries a tremendous emotional content and, ironically, each musical cue rings with a tone of desperation–the swelling strings and impassioned pop music aspire to suggest a poignancy that feels almost eerily detached from what’s on screen. Michael Caine gets to look sad and preserves some dignity in doing so, but Harvey Keitel is saddled with awkward, on-the-nose dialogue. The fate of his character is so disaffecting that it is nearly comical. This is a mess in every way, which is a shame considering the occasional flirtation with interesting ideas (there’s a compelling running conversation about how little of their childhoods the men remember, and occasionally the dalliances with the surreal–as in an early dream sequence–are effective).

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