The British Film Festival opened in Adelaide on Wednesday night at the Palace Nova Eastend. The first offering Youth, is an interesting look at the way we treat the older members of our society.
For his second English-language film, Director Paolo Sorrentino has delivered a beautiful film, which was nominated for a Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival 2015. Filmed in the stunning scenery of the Swiss Alps, the stellar cast give good performances, but between the picture postcard scenes and the drama of these characters lives there are slow parts, which tend to make the characters and us lose focus.
The two elderly friends, who have been vacationing in the same hotel for many years have very different outlooks on life. Fred, played by Michael Caine, has accepted that his life is winding down and is happy in his apathy. Mick (Harvey Keitel), is as passionate about his movies as he ever was, not noticing that he is not doing as well as he thinks he is. Mick needs his passion and the ability to create to survive.
The film questions the way we view the elderly. Is Fred apathetic or is he merely accepting of what he sees as the hand life has dealt? Refusing to come out of retirement, Mick is seen as dynamic and not giving in to life’s changes, but when his lead actress, played by Jane Fonda, forces him to look closely at his life, he gives up.
The way in which both lead characters view themselves is governed by the way the world views them. Their children measure them. Fred’s daughter Lena (played by Rachel Wiesz) and Mick’s son, Julian (Ed Stoppard), have just ended their marriage and have their own adjustments to make. The writers, who surround Mick and bask in the reflection of what they see as his glory, warp his view of his worth.
The actor Jimmy Tree is played by Paul Dano and becomes the observer, who watches and comments but does not involve himself. He becomes the character that the audience relate to.
There are several fun moments in the film, which includes an outrageous cameo by Paloma Faith who appears as the new woman in Julian’s life, and a delightful scene where Fred, in the glorious scenery, conducts the animals and the wind. The whole film has a beautiful score by David Lang and is exquisitely photographed by Luca Bigazzi.
It is an interesting film with many layers, which should make us rethink the way we view ourselves and the others in our lives.
Reviewed by Fran Edwards
Rating out of 10: 7