Youth Blu-ray Review

A long life deserves its rest and relaxation. And if you’re successful, you can spend time at a luxurious resort in Switzerland, swimming in therapeutic waters during the day and listening to delicate musical numbers at night.

This is precisely where retired composer Fred Ballinger (Michael Caine, targeting a far different audience than the one that knows him as Alfred Pennyworth) and his closest companion, aging yet active filmmaker Mick Boyle (Harvey Keitel, stepping away from his recent playful turns in Wes Anderson movies) decide to be. In their younger years, they would create and bask in fame and sleep with whoever they wanted. Now, they have to ask if they urinated enough that morning.

Youth

Fred has been asked to play his most famous number, Simple Songs, for the Queen of England, but he decides against it because the singing role can no longer be performed by his wife. On the other side of the resort, Mick has hired a team of screenwriters to pen his “testament,” the final film that will secure his place in cinema. Also at the resort are Fred’s daughter, Lena (Rachel Weisz, THE LOBSTER), and a young actor named Jimmy Tree (Paul Dano, who recently portrayed Brian Wilson in LOVE & MERCY), there doing research for his next role. (There is also an overweight Diego Maradona, in a well-done cameo.)

Youth

YOUTH is written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino, whose previous works include 2008’s IL DIVO, 2011’s THIS MUST BE THE PLACE and 2013’s THE GREAT BEAUTY, which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. THE GREAT BEAUTY remains his finest work to date, but YOUTH may hit a certain mark that will help make him a more familiar name.

Youth

YOUTH has a wonderful screenplay with lines that both develop the characters into human beings and make the viewer of a certain age consider their own lives. (Yes, sometimes it comes off as if both Fred and Mick only speak in blunt ponderations—“As a father, I could have done more…”—but, then, isn’t this natural for two men at this point in their lives and careers?). What will we be remembered for? We can do endless good deeds or create a large body of artistic work, what will it all come down to? And what, then, can we do about it? In the film, the 70-something-year-old Fred is aware that people only want to hear Simple Songs but is too old to create another full masterpiece. Meanwhile, Jimmy knows he is only recognized for his role as a robot, but is young and determined enough to ensure it doesn’t stay this way. Is either better than the other? Or should we just be grateful that we will even be remembered?

Youth

At the center of this rather touching film are the stellar performances of both Caine and Keitel, who give performances that rank quite high in their careers, now 59 and 48 years old, respectively.

YOUTH premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Palme d’Or. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

BLU-RAY REVIEW

Video: 2.39:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. Details are strong, colors are natural and the locales are just as gorgeous and relaxing as Fred and Mick needed them to be.

Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1; English Descriptive Audio 5.1. Subtitles in English, Spanish and French. Dialogue is clean and the music comes through quite nicely.

Promotional Featurettes: There are five short featurettes housed here, which focus on the cast/crew, the music and the themes. They are: Michael Caine (3:43), Paolo Sorrentino (4:11), Cast (3:56), Music and Sound (3:43) and The Essence of Youth (2:10).

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