15 – 119mins – 2015
LIFE’S LAST DAY
“Fear… that’s an amazing sense, too, you know?”
A 5 star Alpine holiday resort is the sole setting for this patchwork portrait of the assorted guests – some famous, some not; some friendly, some not – who use the Swiss spa’s first-rate facilities to recuperate and reflect on the state of their seasoned lives.
Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel lead a hefty ensemble cast as Fred and Mick, two lifelong friends approaching their twilight years. While retired composer Fred (Caine) resists the resurrection of his most famous work on the grounds of “personal reasons,” movie director Mick (Keitel) is disparately desperate for his next project to be a real return to form – even if he and his team of screenwriters are struggling to agree on the best final scene.
Amongst the other vacationers comprising this “melodic cacophony” are discontent actor Jimmy Tree (Paul Ruby Sparks Dano), Fred’s distraught daughter, Lena Ballinger (Rachel Weisz), who has just been jilted by her husband for pop star Paloma Faith (who gamely plays herself for the second time on film following Peter & Wendy), and a less-than-ditzy Miss Universe (Mādālina Diana Ghenea). Essentially, what rings true is that even flawed individuals make enthralling subjects.
Slow, mournful, whimsical and often verging on the surreal, Academy Award-winning Italian director Paolo Sorrentino has crafted a poignant-but-perplexing think-piece on love, loss, betrayal and age in Youth. At times it is – to quote from the film – “simple… but beautiful” while at others it is almost maddeningly grotesque and impenetrable in its cunning creativity.
Whether you find the content joyous or horrific, praise must be paid to Youth’s sublime jukebox soundtrack, which right from the opening cover of Florence + the Machine’s “You’ve Got the Love” frequently commands the visuals, making Sorrentino’s English language follow-up to 2013’s The Great Beauty feel like an elegantly edited music video.
CR@B’s Claw Score: