‘Youth’, directed by Paolo Sorrentino (‘The Great Beauty’, ‘This Must Be The Place’), is an interesting take on old age, grief, and moving on. In his final years, retired orchestra conductor Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine) goes on holiday to a familiar resort in the Swiss Alps. Joined by his daughter Lena (Rachel Weisz) and his old friend, and director, Mike (Harvey Keitel), Fred ponders over his life and others’ whilst trying to avoid the one thing he refuses to do – conduct a selection of his songs during a birthday performance for the Queen and Prince Phillip. #
Lots of films nowadays are fast-paced, action-packed, and sometimes a tad overwhelming, so it can be really nice to watch a film that is in fact slower-paced and more careful in its approach. ‘Youth’ focuses its theme around old age – considered a slower time of life – and so the film really encompasses this theme well. Each shot is carefully planned and presented, and the dialogue between the characters is very thought out.
The characters themselves develop slowly but well. We’re not presented with all that much information at the start – I found myself making a lot of assumptions which turned out to be very far away from the truth, and so I liked how I constantly found myself being slightly surprised. Fred and Mike have an interesting friendship, but they really do come across as old friends. Blah plays another character, Blah, who is a well-known actor who feels frustrated at the world for not seeing what he wants them to see in him. He doesn’t seem like an integral character as we only really experience a few conversations between him and Fred, yet he actually has a lot to do with the moral underpinnings of the story.
If you’re the sort of person who enjoys people-watching (I most definitely am), then you’ll really enjoy the use of minor characters as a reflective device. We get to see them all through the eyes of the older, and it makes for quite a reflective experience. Sometimes the scenes feel just a tad too slow, but they all deliver important messages. The only think I struggled with was that some of the messages didn’t necessarily translate properly in my mind – maybe this was intentional, as I am quite far away from the ages of the main characters. It certainly got me to view things from a different line of thinking, but that also meant that I didn’t necessarily relate to all of it in the way that perhaps I should have.
Even if you don’t take away anything from the story (which I doubt), then there’s a lot of enjoyment to be had from the wonderful soundtrack – beautiful classical pieces are played throughout that really add something to the film. Being a retired conductor, Fred has a big connection with music and so some scenes demonstrate his emotions by adding a musical touch. They’re probably the most memorable of scenes, and Michael Caine delivers them superbly.
‘Youth’ probably isn’t the sort of film that you’d sit down to watch with your friends and a sharing bucket of popcorn – it’s enjoyed more alone with your thoughts. However, it really is a beautiful film both visually and emotionally, and so I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys sitting back from life once in a while and just reflecting on what it has to offer.
I give it a 4/5.
Youth at CeX
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