Sunday, 31 January 2016

Review: Youth

World of Blackout Film Review

Youth Poster

Cert: 15 / 124 mins / Dir. Paolo Sorrentino / Trailer
WoB Rating: 5/7

Oh, Michael. That an actor could appear in The Last Witch Hunter and Youth within the same career is odd enough, but do so within the same six months? Of course, it was our own Mr Caine who famously said of his appearance in 'Jaws: The Revenge': "I have never seen it, … however, I have seen the house that it built". You have to admire the man's honesty, even if you can't always trust his judgement.

Youth is a hypnotically rambling, and sometimes borderline psychedelic, film in which Caine portrays Fred Ballinger, a retired composer and conductor who is holidaying in a health resort in the Swiss Alps at the same time as his screenwriter friend Mick Boyle (played by Harvey Keitel). The two banter and reminisce as Boyle struggles to finish a script and Ballinger struggles to remain retired, tasks made no easier by the breakup of the relationship between their children (Rachel Weisz and Ed Stoppard).

The film sees Caine on probably his best form since Harry Brown, and Keitel at least makes some move towards redressing the thespic balance of those dignity/credibility-shredding insurance adverts he appeared in. Paul Dano and Rachel Weisz are nicely understated in their supporting roles, and it's all looking quietly restrained until Jane Fonda turns up in the third act to munch all available scenery like the Chewits monster (albeit entirely intentionally).

As a sort of lethargic musing on creativity and meditation, Youth is utterly intriguing. Director Paolo Sorrentino and cinematographer Luca Bigazzi bring us a film with the photography of The Grand Budapest Hotel but the pacing of Inside Llewyn Davis. And much like those two, after seeing Youth for the first time, I have pretty much no idea what it's actually about; only that I enjoyed it. Part of me thinks that the film's resort-setting and the accompanying character-arcs could be a metaphor for purgatory, but that seems too obvious in a movie as wilfully obscure as this one. That said, I also believe the film's natural ending point is about ten minutes before the one we get; that's why it's not my film. I don't think that it'll become one of my favourites, but the film definitely calls for another viewing or two.

However, the film loses a point for featuring Paloma Faith in a speaking role as Paloma Faith*1, somehow combining one of the most irritating things in the world with itself to create something much worse…

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
The Grand Budapest Hotel, Inside Llewyn Davis, My Week With Marylin.

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
For the photography, yes. For the story? DVD.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
I think so.
I'll get back to you on that

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
From an acting point of view, probably not.
Although that's a credit to the cast's previous work, not a criticism of it here

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Probably not.

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
There isn't.

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 2: Youth stars that Harvey Keitel who was in that Pulp Fiction alongside that Sam 'Windu' Jackson.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Paloma Faith plays Paloma Faith for reasons which are not explained or even suggested. Not withstanding the fact that she annoys me, there is no narrative reason for a 'real' person to be included in this fictional narrative. There is even less logical reason for that person to be Paloma Faith.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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