Both actors bring a level of performance only one would be able to pull being their age and at this stage of their careers, to be able to look inward and show real heart and humour. Caine, playing a retired composer-conductor, famous for one piece of music which is being requested to be played to the Queen for her birthday celebration, whilst Keitel is a fading veteran film director, wanting to launch his failing career once more with his biggest picture yet, using a small team of youthful writers hoping to pin their stars to the one last try of Keitel’s.
The interactions between Caine and Keitel are some of the highlights of the film, detailing in their sometimes inability to pee, their fading memories and their previous womanising ways, crashed together beautiful images conjured up by Sorrentino throughout the spa and it’s various guests.
Alongside the performances of the leads, the supporting members of this tale merge into the gaps, with Paul Dano’s actor preparing for a new role, whilst bemoaning of his one-hit-wonder status, A Miss Universe who wants nothing more than to parade around naked, an aging and obese football legend (Diego Maradona) and Lena, Fred’s (Caine) daughter and assistant. Weisz in particular opens a soft and very open performance, where her crumbling marriage to Keitel’s son is honest and shows how much their relationship has always been strained. Intercut with odd performances of Fred’s ability to conduct any order of sounds into something beautiful, the clear influences of many actors or musicians who have since faded the last ten, twenty years pitches up to lend Caine a heaviness in his delivery that’s heartfelt.
Wrapped around themes of loss, wisdom, love, longing and regret, Youth is a mature watch that is sharp, allows the actors to breathe and creates moments of sheer brilliance, especially in the last third that’s different to many of the blockbusters you’ll see in the next few months. If you haven’t been able to see the film yet in cinemas, then the DVD release is a high recommendation for two hours of honesty and emotional discourse that’s visually rich, pinpointing acting prowess and musical unpretentious.
Getting older for some people may be a terrifying prospect, but Youth lends more of a light-hearted approach towards it that will feel like a two-hour massage of the film fan’s heart towards traditional cinematic techniques and style rather than Superhero films or over-the-top sequels.
Review by Simon Childs
Youth is out now for home entertainment.