It has been decided. Paolo Sorrentino is this century’s Fellini.
Movie Review #1,023
Fox Searchlight Pictures
1 hour, 58 minutes
Rated R (graphic nudity, some sexuality, and language)
Released December 4, 2015
Directed by Paolo Sorrentino
Written by Paolo Sorrentino
Starring Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, Laura De Marchi, Rachel Weisz, Paul Dano, and Jane Fonda
Had “Youth” been crafted by the likes of Hollywood, it would be just another brick in the wall—another nail in the coffin of comedies about grumpy old men who become more wistful as they reflect on the past. On paper, that’s what the plot is about, but to paraphrase the late, great Roger Ebert, it’s how it’s about, not what it’s about. The “how” shows through incomparably in the brilliant screen coupling of Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel in this film. This is a rare film where drama is lifelike and comedy is natural, although to term it a comedy-drama is practically an insult; a rare film cut from no cloth but that which the director—who proves now more than ever to be the 21st century’s answer to Federico Fellini—wears so gloriously.
Caine and Keitel play, respectively, a retired composer and a veteran filmmaker. Naturally, music and film play an important role in the film, as do the two men’s appreciation of life and reminiscence of their youth. It’s no accident that we appreciate this film as we would beautiful music, and as an authentic, enchanting slice of life. Thus far, it is the most lifelike and lively, the most observational and exquisite, the most poetically cinematic experience of the year. As beautiful as the script and its delivery by the cast are the sight and sound of the film. David Lang has created an exemplar of simplistic beauty. Lang is far from a household name, but I pray that that will change in due time. As a regular to the director since 2004, Luca Bigazzi’s cinematography goes without saying. His visual capture of “Youth” is reason enough to appreciate cinema as a fine art. “Youth” is intended as a followup to Sorrentino’s “The Great Beauty”. Maybe his previous film didn’t quite convince you of the director’s genius. His newest, however, will.