Youth movie full length review - A Powerful Movie of Exceptional Value
Sorrentino has successfully directed a masterfully written, and masterfully executed, work of art which recommends to us a life in which all accomplishments, be they experienced "in youth" or "in old age," are valued for their contribution to the whole.
Because it appears that many who have commented on this movie have missed the advantage of its insights, I will be more specific for the sake of those who have not yet seen it.
YOUTH is masterfully organized. Far from being a chaos of disjointed scenes and character sketches, every event and every character in this movie contributes insight into this single theme: If not properly integrated into our present life experience, the meanings which we impute to our past experience, relative to our present, can interfere with our continuing to live a fulfilling life.
We see in numerous examples throughout the movie that Michael Caine's character had come to terms with his present life as a retired conductor, but he had to learn a few more lessons to remove the blocks which were impediments to his present fulfillment. In the many other scenarios dealing with this same problem, we are shown how characters are allowing their past to intrude into their present in ways which block their present fulfillment.
Many of the scenarios in YOUTH, as the title connotes, involve the refusal to recognize the value of our present attributes and to cling excessively to ones which we fear we either have lost or might lose as we grow older. It is the nature of human experience that, regardless of age, we want to feel that we are respectable, that we have led?and continue to lead?lives that are worthwhile. We differ in terms of the particular attributes and accomplishments which we regard as respectable and worthwhile, but we all share in this desire to have such attributes and accomplishments. The Caine character is seen to steadfastly refuse to "re-live" or dwell upon the accomplishments of his youth. He refuses to perform the song for which he is most famous, he refuses to write an autobiography, which would dwell upon the accomplishments of a life that, to him, is past. He hears words of wisdom from the mouth of a young man in violin practice who is playing Caine's "Simple Song" and is given the reassurance he needs to recognize that this is not a song of which he should be ashamed. In re-defining this past accomplishment he reintegrates it into a whole life which is fulfilling to him both "then" and "now."
The lesson is further extended in the character played by Harvey Keitel. He persisted in his conviction that he must continue to be the one he was, the outstanding movie director. When he cannot demonstrate that he has all of the capabilities that he had in his youth, he loses his will to live. We see the character played by Jane Fonda desperately trying to be the star she always was, even while telling the Keitel character that he is not the director he always was. Her message destroys them both, as she realizes all too late that, after all, she loves him for what he is, not just for what he was. This is the lesson in its most graphic iteration.
There are many other scenarios played out among the characters in YOUTH, all illustrations of this same need to integrate and value what we have been, what we are, and what we shall be in a way that harmonizes rather than impedes the flow of life. I urge the viewer to look at all of these with an eye toward recognizing the message implicit in each one?there are no superfluous incidents in this movie.
Although YOUTH focuses on the problem of harmonious integration in the context of aging and the desire on the part of some to retain the attributes of youth even when no longer of a youthful age, this problem is not restricted to the old and does not always involve aging. It is a problem involving self esteem, which can and does occur in many other contexts. By showing us how a variety of characters address the same problem, their need to feel good about themselves IN THE PRESENT, YOUTH provides some insight into the likely outcome of the different approaches to this universal need.
We see that failure to address this need in a healthy manner interferes with our living lives which are?and which CONTINUE TO BE?fulfilling.
Ten Stars that are well deserved.