Youth Screen 24 articles



Youth Poster
  • All these layers of references and allusions ultimately feel like an empty shell game in a movie that is (like most of Sorrentino’s work) only interested in the alternately grotesque and glittering surfaces of things, whether the screen-filling majesty of the Alps or the folds of sagging flesh of old age. Sorrentino is reaching for “Sunset Blvd.” territory here, and he ends up with what feels like a late-career Jack Lemmon-Walter Matthau pairing directed by a hack Fellini.

  • Sorrentino is a cinematic anti-Midas: everything he touches turns to shit. So it is in this film, in which virtually every decision in terms of framing, editing, sound design and narrative construction is inevitably, in some way, the _wrong_ decision, resulting in a cacophonic ode to aesthetic decrepitude.

  • The full-blown pathology that was already clearly indicated in The Great Beauty (2013) has developed, in Youth, into a metastasis. Critics of Sorrentino often point out the discrepancies between the strength of his visual flair and the weakness of his storytelling. But the screenwriting and cinematography of his films make perfect sense together, one pompously trying to disguise the shallowness of the other. This is, after all, the fraudulent essence of his cinema.

  • To call this misty, low-risk collection of calculated revelations a high-toned The Bucket List would be a disservice to Rob Reiner. If it’s true, as Sorrentino has Brenda say at one point, that artists don’t get better with age, we are in for at least a rough couple of decades.

  • It’s shocking how unpersuasive this gadfly-ish auteur is when it comes to sketching characters in his peer group, and as in The Great Beauty he seems unsure of whether he’s critiquing callow first-class largesse or luxuriating in it (the film is set at a deluxe alpine spa). Instead of fertilely mining the gap between artifice and authenticity, Youth simply tumbles in and disappears—and without a trace, at that.

  • Unless slow-mo shots of sagging hotel guests set to classical music and broad jokes about Hollywood are your idea of great cinema, there isn’t a whole lot to see here aside from Dano’s interesting performance and a few good gags, the best of them being the delayed reveal of the role Dano’s character has been preparing to play. Without a strong presence to tie everything together, Sorrentino’s direction, typically all over the place, comes across as simply inane and tempo-less.

  • [Sorrentino is] using his films as sounding boards for all kinds of casual attacks against that which he deems vulgar: big pop-cultural targets like Reality TV, bubblegum pop music, or prestige television, most of which are invoked as absolute, irredeemable garbage (nothing has spewed holier-than-thou aesthetic hatred in recent memory more than Sorrentino's pastiche of a CGI-laden music video, which is worse than Assayas's rendition of a sci-fi blockbuster).

  • Too often Youth sympathizes with its characters’ worst impulses. The most revealing scene of the movie may be when Mick arranges a meeting with his old muse, Brenda Forel (Jane Fonda), to pitch his movie, only for her to turn him down in favor of a TV role. The impact of this bombshell alters Youth‘s course, and it also permits Sorrentino to expand his list of soft targets to the hackneyed belief that television is the death of cinema.

  • While Youth may not be [Sorrentino's] worst film (that honor still firmly belongs to his previous foray into English-language filmmaking, This Must Be the Place), it is his most pretentious and bombastic... All of the dialogue is so transparently subservient to the film’s thematic concerns, it’s very rare for any of it to feel authentic.

  • Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth populates its Swiss spa hotel with witty characters, not least Michael Caine’s melancholic great composer and Harvey Keitel’s washed-up film director, whose jokes come off better than I expected given the arch trailer, but the sheer bathos of the piece, with its excess of Cracker Barrel philosophising and relaunch on truly terrible music crashes the whole project long before the end.

  • What makes Youth watchable despite its lackluster ideas is its occasionally voluptuous embellishments, such as Fred imagining he’s conducting a symphony of cows in a field, or an obese footballer with a Karl Marx tattoo keeping a tennis ball in the air with his feet and gut... [In the last act,] Sorrentino not only flattens his own dynamics by pitching every single scene at Maximum Epicness, but worse than that, keeps flexing a casual sexism in his films

  • Mr. Sorrentino’s brightly effusive visual imagination can be intoxicating; almost every scene gives something worth looking at — a mountain landscape, a beauty queen strutting about in all her glory, Mr. Caine’s wonderful face, by turns delicate and stony. But the story is too diffuse and Mr. Sorrentino’s ideas (we live, we regret, we die) are too flimsy, especially when not tethered to the glories of Rome, backdrop of his last feature, “The Great Beauty.”

  • I responded to the Maiwenn and Sorrentino films with neither love nor loathing, and indeed found myself generally absorbed and carried along by stray currents of genuine feeling in between all the emotionally incontinent moodswings of “Mon roi” and the visual/musical indulgences of “Youth.”

  • Sorrentino and his regular director of photography, Luca Bigazzi, find all kinds of visual bonbons in the hotel and its grounds... But for all this elegant fun, the film never grasps its central theme with the same clarity or courage as The Great Beauty – or, for that matter, Sorrentino’s superb 2004 film The Consequences of Love, with which Youth shares a significant amount of its DNA.

  • It was precisely a mixed reaction like that [both cheers and boos] that capped today’s morning screening of Paolo Sorrentino’s “Youth”, the first film the Italian director finished after his much-praised, Oscar-winning “The Great Beauty”. As fond as I am of the film, I think it may meet a similarly contradictory response once it gets released: it’s an uneven work, which requires attuning oneself to its quirky rhythms and not minding an occasional misstep.

  • Sorrentino is like a master dessert maker who keeps piling sweets on a tray until they reach precarious heights: He just doesn't know when to stop. But the movie has so many lovely moments that coasting along with it is easy.

  • There's a lot of banality and sentimentality here, but Sorrentino also trumps his Big Concepts by focusing on human fragility and the impossibility of pinning things down - and he's still a stubborn stylist, refusing to let go of "all that Cinema bullshit" even in the Age of TV, and even when his visual ideas may seem flashy or kitschy.

  • Making his second film in English, following 2011’s exceedingly eccentric This Must Be The Place, Sorrentino still mostly refuses to compromise. Youth is slightly less garish and bombastic than his Italian pictures (which include The Great Beauty and Il Divo), but it’s no less free-associative, building meaning from juxtapositions that feel largely intuitive. If you’re on Sorrentino’s wavelength, that can feel liberating. If not, “oppressive” might be a better word.

  • Youth asks interesting questions, and it’s almost always stunning to look at and listen to. But it’s lacking something. Call it forward momentum, maybe. Sorrentino’s characters may be stuck, but his stories don’t need to be. Characters this static and inward-looking sometimes need that extra push — narrative, emotional, whatever — to make sure symbolic tedium doesn’t become actual tedium... Though often beautiful, this is an emotionally paralyzed film about emotionally paralyzed people.

  • None of [Sorrentino's] films has had me doubting his qualities quite like Youth—just as his last one, The Great Beauty, confirmed my certainty of his brilliance. Still, there are probably not that many filmmakers around today who can impress you with their inspiration and their vacuity, their sublimity and their crassness, from one film to the next—still less in the space of a single movie. This surely distinguishes Sorrentino as, at the very least, a fascinating anomaly.

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    Sight & Sound: Philip Kemp
    January 04, 2016 | February 2016 Issue (p. 92)

    Youth has been written off as pretentious self-indulgence, all style and precious little substance. But when the style is as stylish as this – much aided by Luca Bigazzi’s glorious widescreen photography – to reproach it for lacking substance seems like chiding champagne for being low on nourishment.

  • So vivid and startling are the tableaux captured by a gliding camera that it’s often hard to see anything other than high-impact visual gimmickry. Mere hours after its first press screening, Youth is already dividing critics... For this writer, there is a palpable atmosphere to the film, a sense that Fred has entered his end days.

  • The aged and affluent might be easy to mock, and maybe they can take Sorrentino’s teasing, but there’s more to this movie than that; it’s got a soul and believes in art. But he targets the rich, because he appears to think the source of the world’s decay can be traced to its upper echelons.

  • Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel are both tremendous in their respective roles as revered maestros on the wane, while Sorrentino infuses the serenely beautiful (at times bewildering) imagery with life-affirming exuberance. A scene in which Caine conducts an orchestra of cows in a field is among the most joyous we've seen at this prestigious festival.

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