Paolo Sorrentino’s reflections on ageing are beautifully captured in Youth. Performances in the film are great, and the visuals are often captivating.
A retired orchestra conductor is on holiday in a Swiss hotel with his best friend, a film director who is working on his latest script. Fred and Mick reflect upon their own lives, as well as those of the other hotel guests, during their stay…
Youth is a drama with comedy flecks. There is a narrative present, but this is loose enough to allow the film to allow writer and director Paolo Sorrentino to do what he aims to do. Namely, this is to have the older characters reflect on life and the passage of time.
The film concentrates on composer and conductor Fred, and he remains the focal point of Youth. However, Sorrentino does delve into the other characters connected with Fred, weaving different narratives as the film progresses. These strands offer a different stage of life or a different perspective on life, frequently focussing on ageing. Fred is approachable in his apathy. Sorrentino draws the main characters well. Relationships in Youth are definitely believable. There are some interesting segues into more abstract sequences which are a cause for humour. The film is ponderous rather than melancholic, even in more downbeat moments.
The setting of a luxury Swiss hotel works well in Youth. It allows for a variety of characters to flitter in and out of view. It also makes room for some amusing, anecdote-like sequences. Sorrentino moves the narrative on at a glacial pace, offering the audience plenty of time to ponder the dialogue and soak up the imagery.
The production design and sound design are great in Youth. Michael Caine delivers a convincing performance as Fred. He is matched by Harvey Keitel’s turn as Mick. Paul Dano is decent in a supporting role, and Rachel Weisz stands out as Lena. Her monologue on her relationship with her father is fantastically performed.
More of a dialogue than a monologue on life and ageing, Youth is a well directed and well performed piece of cinema.