Youth touched me deeply with its perfect mix of drama and comedy. Sorrentino’s latest feature length piece rests in a gorgeously secluded Spa retreat in the Swiss Alps at the breast of prolific ex-maestro Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine). Pestered to perform for Her Majesty, Ballinger’s tranquil stay is shaken up, disrupted like only a shrieking baby in a small audience could.
Maintaining Luca Bigazzi and Christiano Travaglioli from The Great Beauty as the cinematographer and editor for Youth, Sorrentino maintains and builds upon the divine aesthetic that’s already had him internationally recognised. Sorrentino and crew demonstrate the power of a good shot by making literally every shot interesting; the carousel opening looked like a potential music video, zooming onto Caine rustling a sweet wrapper felt Nolan-esque with the isolation of the audio and the connotations – I heard an orchestral piece in a crackling, crinkled piece of cheap plastic.. Not to mention excellently capturing natural beauty, pulling off dream sequences that would have Fellini doff his hat and frequently introduce delicate and unexpected but not necessarily unorthodox tilts and pans that serve only to heighten the emotions.
Some might dismiss viewing Youth on its title alone, its “pretentious” setting among the elite of the artistic scene or maybe even its aged cast. Unsurprising to Sorrentino fans the film has so much life and vibrant colour spilling out of each frame that the film turned a profit in worldwide box-office (though I’ve no idea how much the marketing budget eats into that).
The simple story is relatable and moves the story along at a pace fitting for the elderly characters. Several hilarious cameos scattered through the film show directorial flare but Caine, Harvey Keitel (a has-been director trying for another magnum opus) and Rachel Weisz (Daughter of Caine’s Ballinger) give such stunning performances that steal the show. One long take monologue in particular with Weisz – who looks absolutely beautiful here, once again – was electrifying. Paul Dano’s in there too, I love that guy.
“See how everything looks really close? That’s Youth” Keitel spins the telescope around so his young co-writer is using the telephoto lens against herself..“Now see how everything looks really far away?” . Youth celebrates the potential in losing control; not thinking too far ahead and not being hesitant – features of youth. It also reminds us to look fondly on what we achieve as we grow and that our latest doesn’t have to be our greatest.