Star – Michael Caine
My Rating ***
Genre – Drama
Run Time – 2 Hr 4 Minutes.
Certificate – 1
Country – U
Oscar nominations – 1
Awards – 20 Wins & 55 Nominations
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‘Youth’ is from BAFTA award winning director Paolo Sorrentino, that particular gong for ‘The Great Beauty’ in the ‘Best Foreign Film’ category. It was a film I didn’t particularly like and thought rather pretentious. But he did do two films I did like, ‘This must be the Place’ and ‘The Family Friend. He likes to express emotions in his later work through music and here gets it spot on.
Sorrentino wrote this one with star Michael Caine in mind, a film that also includes interesting cameos from singing stars Paloma Faith, Mark Kozelek, Sun Kil Moon and Sumi Jo. Youth is a classy movie with an extraordinary cast of talent. After Caine saw this movie for the first time at the Premier, he wrote a letter to Sorrentino, saying he was deeply touched by it, and described during the trip back home in the taxi with his wife, he was emotionally broken from it.
Rachel Weisz … Lena Ballinger
Paul Dano … Jimmy Tree
Harvey Keitel … Mick Boyle
Alex Macqueen … Queen’s Emissary
Michael Caine … Fred Ballinger
Ian Attard … 1st Queen’s Emissary Assistant (as Ian Keir Attard)
Adam Jackson-Smith … 2nd Queen’s Emissary Assistant
Dorji Wangchuk … Buddhist Monk
Roly Serrano … South American
Loredana Cannata … South American’s Wife
Mãdãlina Ghenea … Miss Universe
Mark Kozelek … Mark Kozelek
Paloma Faith…Paloma Faith
Revered English conductor Fredrick Ballinger (Michael Caine) is paying a visit to an exclusive health retreat in the foothills of the Swiss Alps. His beautiful daughter Lena (Rachael Weisz) is there as his PR and also meeting up with film director and good friend Mike Doyle (Harvey Kietel), who is soon to be Lena’s father in-law as she plans to marry his son. Also there is Jimmy Tree (Paul Dano), the leading man in Doyle’s film, doing a read through of the movie at the resort.
The Queen’s Emissary (Alex Macqueen) is also at the resort, determined to get Fredrick to sign up for a royal performance in London for Her Majesty. But he does not want to do it and keeps turning him down. His reasons are very personal but he won’t let on. He is adamant he will not do it, even for the Queen.
There are many other distractions at the retreat, a huge Maradona (Roly Sorrano) there to lose weight, a stunning Miss Universe (Mãdãlina Ghenea) strutting around, an alleged levitating monk (Dorji Wangchuk) and over helpful and attractive staff catering to all the elite’s needs and desires. But for all this healthy physical living Fred is getting old and vulnerable and the peace and quiet is reminding him of that, stirring emotions deep inside, and those around him, as he ponders whether he should sing for the Queen or not.
This is an exquisite experience of words and music resonating in an almost religious experience, a requiem on film, if you like. Caine is Brilliant as the famous old man confronting his mortality and the loss of youth and all that disappointment and depression brings us.
It’s a fascinating and emotive film exploring how beautiful music stimulates and connects to our memories. It’s like how a particular song can elevate memories and emotions from the past in that unexpected way. It’s a film that really grabs you in an unexpected way, however old you are, emotional for Caine, to, as he is that old A-lister battling with age and eventual retirement. He had a hip replacement this year.
There are some interesting cameos here, none more so than Mãdãlina Ghenea’s naked scene as Miss Universe in the bath, voted number one in WhatCulture.com’s “15 Most Paused Movie Moments Of 2015”. She is a hot little lady. The Maradona thing is just plain surreal. Paloma Faith is a great sport playing a version of herself and the brilliant script less than kind to her. Jane Fonda also pitches up as the Hollywood diva.
This is a film to look out for guys, intelligent, emotive, smart and quite mesmerizing in places. Caine is getting old now and not that many more films like this to come from him. I could stare at Rachael Weisz beauty for ever more.
Imdb.com – 7.7 /10.0 (63,34votes)
Rottentomatos.com –72% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 64% critic’s approval