Review – YOUTH – Memories are made of this

Enjoy a real treat with this DVD starring Michael Caine

YOUTH, is definitely not another film from the stable of light-hearted movies we have seen recently, such as Marigold Hotel and Quartet, regaling the unlikely adventures of folks in the third act of their lives.

That said, in YOUTH there’s no absence of sharp wit and the sort of wry humour that comes from people of a certain age discussing their prostate problems, but this is altogether a more intense and serious look at how the future might appear from the perspective of someone approaching eighty.

Paolo Sorrentino’s movie is set in a luxury spa hotel in the foothills of the Alps where Fred Ballinger, a very accomplished, retired composer, and his friend of some sixty years, elderly film director, Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel) are on vacation.

Michael Caine is at his best as the slightly irascible Fred, allowing the occasional smile to breakthrough his grumpy old man persona. In the opening scenes he sends the Queen’s emissary packing with a stubborn refusal to come out of retirement to conduct his famous series of Simple Songs before the Queen and Prince Philip. Mick, on the other hand, believes there’s still everything to play for as he tries to make a comeback with a movie starring his former leading lady, Brenda Morrel (Jane Fonda).

As with any holiday, the abundance of leisure time gives Fred plenty of opportunity to ruminate on the past and what, if anything, the future might hold. His daughter, Lena (Rachel Weisz), who is also his personal assistant, is on hand to remind him of his failings as a parent and brings her own drama to the occasion when her husband (who is also Mick’s son) suddenly dumps her.

Providing a complete contrast and some insight into the youthful condition, Fred and Mick are surrounded by images of youth including a Hollywood film actor (Paul Dano), with a tedious sense of cynicism, and Mick’s enthusiastic screenwriters. And when Miss Universe joins Fred and Mick in the plunge pool it’s clear that men’s interests remain much the same, whatever their age.

There’s not much of a plot here – more of a poignant, and often amusing journey. There are quite a few laughs along the way as the two friends reflect on their past, trying to understand their children’s confused lives and those of the other hotel guests.

The cinematography and scenery are wonderful. There is an amazing scene of St. Mark’s Square engulfed in water and endless shots of mountain scenery and a cacophony of cowbells. There’s wide ranging music too – from pop to opera and with a cameo performance from Paloma Faith.

Unsurprisingly YOUTH premiered to critical acclaim at last year’s Cannes Film Festival and is a movie you could watch several times and still see something new. It is now available on Digital Download  and on DVD and Blu-ray on 30th May 2016.

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