DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

YOUTH (director/writer: Paolo Sorrentino cinematographer: Luca Bigazzi; editor: Cristiano Travaglioni; music: David Lang; cast: Michael Caine (Fred Ballinger), Harvey Keitel (Mick Boyle), Rachel Weisz (Lena Ballinger), Paul Dano (Jimmy Tree), Jane Fonda (Brenda Morel), Mark Kozelek (Himself), Robert Seethaler (Luca Moroder), Alex MacQueen (Queen's Emissary), Luna Mijovic (Young Masseuse), Tom Lipinski (Screenwriter in Love), Chloe Pirrie (Girl Screenwriter), Alex Beckett (Intellectual Screenwriter), Nate Dern (Funny Screenwriter), Mark Gessner (Shy Screenwriter), Paloma Faith (Herself), Ed Stoppard (Julian), Sonia Gessner (Melanie), Madalina Ghenea (Miss Universe ), Sumi Jo (Herself), Wolfgang Michael (Doctor), Leo Artin Boschin (Violin Kid); Runtime: 118; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Nicola Giliano, Francesca Cima, Carlotta Calori; Fox Searchlight; 2015-Italy-France-U.K.-Switzerland)

"Just so much drivel."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Italian filmmaker Paolo Sorrentino ("The Great Beauty"/"This Must Be The Place"/"The Family Friend") directs and writes this cynical dramedy. It's heavy on stunning visuals, a bitter humor, on making so-called significant life observations, dealing with betrayal and love, and tuning into practical wisdoms mentioned about how relationships are marred by communication issues. It tells us with a patronizing certainty how one's emotions are what's so important to be in touch with at all times, how aging changes one's views on life, about how being unfulfilled leaves one unsettled and how art can deeply effect both the artist and the public. The wisdom pedaled seemed more superficial than deep. More art-house beautiful than spiritual.

Retired, widowed and renown English composer and orchestra conductor Michael Caine and his divorced elderly life-long best friend, the famous film director Harvey Keitel, are vacationing together in a posh inn at the Swiss Alps. Also there are the composer's married daughter Rachel Weisz, who is married to the filmmaker's son Ed Stoppard. He shocks everyone by out of the blue seeking a divorce to marry the inn's pop singer Paloma Faith.

Meanwhile the composer gets a complete physical by the staff doctor (Wolfgang Michael) and regular massages from the muted masseuse (Luna Mijovic), who also lays on us some good advice on healing our mental pain.

Keitel is there with his team of writers, trying to complete the script for his latest film.

In the beautiful surroundings of the Alps, the two seniors stir their memories back to their youth, grouse about getting old and seem uptight about what they missed in their life. A successful young actor (Paul Dano) befriends the composer and tries to figure out how he will carry out his latest role, portraying an unlikable historical monster, as he admires how the composer handles himself. Especially the cool way the unruffled composer turns down for personal reasons a coveted invitation by the Queen, delivered by her emissary (Alex MacQueen), to perform his most popular work for her. Jane Fonda comes to the spa to tell the director, who discovered her 50 years ago, that she won't be in his film because she took the money to do a TV series. Without Jane, Keitel realizes the producers will not finance the film. The final act serves to mop things up as best it can--as it finds some practical solutions for almost all the dire situations presented. I wasn't convinced by any of the so-called solutions and, for the most part, thought the sentiments were just so much drivel.

All the life lessons tossed my way were diverting but soon became tiresome. Though well-meaning, well-produced and well-acted, I somehow couldn't get emotional about it. This comes after being constantly preached at that the emotions are not over-rated but are what it's all about.

REVIEWED ON 11/25/2015       GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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