Review: 'Youth' a perfect blend of simplicity and subtlety


"Youth," the second English language film from "The Great Beauty" director Paolo Sorrentino, takes on some of life’s great questions, life and death stuff painted with remorse, hope and, most importantly, a large helping of whimsy.

See Full Article

Set in a chic hotel in alpine Switzerland, retired composer Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine) and his childhood friend, film director Mick (Harvey Keitel) are plotting the next moves in their careers and lives.

Ballinger wants to disappear, fade away from public life and live quietly. He refuses repeated requests to perform his best known work at a command performance from Queen Elizabeth’s envoy (Alex Macqueen) and tells his assistant, Lena (Rachel Weisz) who also happens to be his daughter, to turn down a French publisher who desperately wants him to write a memoir.

Mick is in a different place. After a string of flops he’s writing a new film to feature his greatest star, Brenda Morel (Jane Fonda). They’ve made a dozen films together but he sees the new movie, "Life’s Last Day," as a comeback and their greatest collaboration.

"Youth" is a study of these two men. Other things happen of course; Lena’s husband leaves her for a pop star -- in a po-mo twist real life singer Paloma Faith plays herself as the home wrecker -- a movie star (Paul Dano) researches a new role at the hotel and Miss Universe (Madalina Diana Ghenea) makes a memorable appearance, but the attention is focussed on Fred and Mick and their divergent paths to happiness.

Their journeys are bathed in Sorrentino’s impeccable images. The film is a lush tapestry of beautifully composed frames and optical delight. Ornate and elegant, the visuals are as complex as the film’s multilayered look at life’s rich pageant.

Fred and Mick have lived life, and now in their final years try and assess the value of their experience. Sounds heavy but it’s not. It’s fleet footed, taking time only to luxuriate in the details of their lives and surroundings.

"Youth" is a mediation on life and age that succeeds by the director’s craft. Talking to a young colleague Mick demonstrates the effects of age by having her look at the distant mountains through a telescope. The mountains appear to be close. Then he flips the scope around and changes the perspective.

"Being young makes everything close," he says. "Being old makes everything far away."

Like the rest of the film it’s simple and subtle but is perfectly realized by Sorrentino’s mastery of blending story, ideas and images.


Latest Entertainment News

  • Shawn Mendes, the serious, striking musician, emerges

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- When Shawn Mendes went into the vocal booth to sing "Mercy," the gravelly, deep, emotional rock song from his latest album, he discovered a new side of himself. He found his voice. Source
  • ABBA to reunite for mysterious 'virtual reality' time machine project

    Entertainment CBC News
    The members of ABBA are reuniting for a "new digital experience" next year. The iconic Swedish pop band made the announcement Wednesday, but didn't offer much detail. The Swedish pop group have not performed publicly since they split more than three decades ago. Source
  • Phil Collins on faux retirement, Genesis reunion rumours and working with Adele

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO -- A few years ago, Phil Collins told everyone he was easing into retirement so he could take care of his health and reconnect with family. But as time wore on, it became abundantly clear that saying goodbye to his influential music career wouldn't be so easy. Source
  • The top 10 scariest horror movie villains of all time

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Halloween is drawing near. And who doesn’t like to be terrified at the movies? You’ll need to get your scary mojo working, and we can help. Here are 10 of the greatest horror movie villains for your consideration: Source
  • ’I had no idea’ voting selfie was illegal says Justin Timberlake

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    NEW YORK — Justin Timberlake has some advice for taking part in the presidential election next month: Vote, but don’t take a selfie while you’re doing it. A ballot box selfie Timberlake took as he voted in his native Tennessee earlier this week apparently violated a new state law that bars voters from taking photographs or video while they’re inside a polling place. Source
  • Bill Murray or Tom Hanks? See the photo that's baffled the world

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Who knew Bill Murray and Tom Hanks could look so much alike? Social media is buzzing over a photo that shows Murray in an orange parka holding a crying baby. Or is it Tom Hanks? The resemblance between the two actors is striking and the viral image has people baffled online - even though the woman who posted it to Facebook in 2013 admitted the snap was, in fact, of Murray. Source
  • Justin Timberlake: 'I had no idea' voting selfie was illegal

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK - Justin Timberlake has some advice for taking part in the presidential election next month: Vote, but don't take a selfie while you're doing it. A ballot box selfie Timberlake took as he voted in his native Tennessee earlier this week apparently violated a new state law that bars voters from taking photographs or video while they're inside a polling place. Source
  • Iggy Pop: Jarmusch was first, only choice for Stooges doc

    Entertainment CTV News
    BIRMINGHAM, Mich. -- In 1969, Jim Jarmusch got his hands on The Stooges' self-titled debut album, and the 16-year-old future filmmaker from Ohio was hooked. "We were partly plotting our escape from Akron in the future and we were investigating whatever stuff we could get our hands on that was a little outside," said Jarmusch, seated Tuesday in a Detroit-area hotel suite next to Iggy Pop, frontman of both the band and Jarmusch's new documentary of the group called "Gimme Danger. Source
  • Justin Bieber cools head, scores goal playing with Manchester hockey club

    Entertainment CBC News
    Looks like Justin Bieber needed some ice time to clear his head after losing his cool during the U.K. leg of his Purpose tour. The Stratford, Ont.-raised pop sensation strapped on his skates with England's Manchester Storm ice hockey club Tuesday, days after storming off the stage in Manchester and calling an audience "obnoxious" in Birmingham. Source
  • Mariah Carey calls off concerts in South America

    Entertainment CTV News
    Mariah Carey is blaming concert promoters for having to cancel part of her tour of South America. Carey writes on Facebook her fans "deserve better than how some of these promoters treated them." Shows in Chile, Argentina and Brazil over the next ten days are affected. Source