In Youth, the last movie of Italian director Paolo Sorrentino, the viewer is treated to a number of compelling scenes consistent with Sorrentino's talent for the symbolic and emotional charge of his images. But these scenes remain isolated and, therefore, unexplainable since what appears to be missing is a linear narrative that ties them together
Fred and Mick, two longtime friends approaching their eighties, are spending some time at a wonderful mountain hotel somewhere in the Alps. Fred is a retired composer and orchestra conductor, Mick a theater director struggling with his new screenplay. Along with other wealthy, bored, extravagant characters, the members of this peculiar group deal with their own demons in a place apparently out of time.Very few authors in movie history have been truly able to imagine a great movie without starting with a proper screenplay. Paolo Sorrentino is not one of them.
His new movie Youth confirms the director's talent and taste in depicting compelling scenarios, but (almost totally) fails to deliver a story capable of connecting them in a coherent storyline. In Youth the audience experiences an overwhelming series of moving scenes which are not tied together by linear logic. Without a screenplay able to find the inherent rhythm of the story, the result is an unbalanced experience in which it is very difficult to understand what moments are really important.
Sorrentino is so committed to put in his movie those cinematic elements he loves the most – for example, a soccer genius like Diego Armando Maradona – that eventually he ends up overcrowding the movie with unnecessary supporting characters, taking focus away from the protagonist so magnificently played by Sir Michael Caine.
Even some secondary stories; for example, the one related to Paul Dano's character (no spoiler!) are too over the top to be coherent with the melancholic tone of the main storyline. Compared to some of his previous movies such as Il Divo and Le conseguenze dell’amore – in our opinion still his best one – Youth shows how Paolo Sorrentino is improving as a director but, at the same time, he seems to have lost his ability to structure his visions.
Such a talented storyteller should probably go back to his roots and pick a genre project, where the beauty of his images could be submitted to a more relatable plot.
Talking about the cast, the afore-mentioned Michael Caine is astonishing in his role as Fred, able to portray the inner, painful life of the musician with a simple, poetic glance. Next to him very talented actors like Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, Paul Dano and living legend Jane Fonda struggle to connect to the audience through characters that are not completely defined and are too often wired in scenes that convey more atmosphere than real feelings.
Youth, released today in the US, confirms in the end that Paolo Sorrentino is a good director who lacks a good screenwriter.
>>Watch Youth official trailer: