|Scene from Youth|
In 2013, director Paolo Sorrentino won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film with The Great Beauty. It was a film that swept awards season with its moving portrait of artists in Italy and the study of its significance. Two years later, he returns to cinema with a film that received rave reviews from Cannes and has already followed in similar reputation to that of its predecessor. Youth is a film that, as its title suggests, plans to explore the mesmerizing qualities of youth. While it is unsure if the film will be as acclaimed or as successful as its predecessor, the first trailer has hit the web, and it at least looks to be a very powerful study of aging.
Nobody should underestimate the appeal of elderly cinema at the Oscars. While the winners have often focused on younger and more spry protagonists, there have been plenty of senior citizens making the rounds. 2013 saw the amazing Nebraska earn Bruce Dern his second Oscar nomination (Best Actor) and gave June Squibb (Best Supporting Actress) her first. With most of the voters in that particular age group as well, it wouldn't seem too impossible to see this trend continue to hold up. It may be Youth's personal shoe-in for this category as well. That is, if it takes off like The Great Beauty did.
If I can confess a personal failure, I haven't seen The Great Beauty in its entirety. Following its win, I attempted to watch it one night and got no more than an hour into it. While the reasoning was partially due to being tired on this particular night, I also couldn't get into the story. It was slow and I wasn't in the mood for a meditative film. There is indeed great beauty in it, but I unfortunately didn't have the best experience watching it the first time around. While I put blame more on me, I do think it will cloud my vision of being at all excited about Youth.
With that said, let's watch the trailer:
Looks pretty good. Here's the plot according to IMDb:
Fred and Mick, two old friends, are on vacation in an elegant hotel at the foot of the Alps. Fred, a composer and conductor, is now retired. Mick, a film director, is still working. They look with curiosity and tenderness on their children's confused lives, Mick's enthusiastic young writers, and the other hotel guests. While Mick scrambles to finish the screenplay for what he imagines will be his last important film, Fred has no intention of resuming his musical career. But someone wants at all costs to hear him conduct again.
If nothing else, I will give the film credit for feeling like it will be a great, meditative experience. While I don't have strong opinions about Michael Caine, I do think that he is looking to turn in a rather intriguing performance that may capture the perils of the aging artist in nuanced ways akin to Dern's senility in Nebraska. Most of all, it just looks to be a rather moving film based on the music selection and its rather distinctive cinematography. There's also plenty of interesting questions that are asked throughout. Now it's time to see if the film will deliver on them.
I do think that it is interesting to see so many international directors making English films this year. There's the previously discussed Joachim Trier film Louder Than Bombs as well as Giorgos Lanthimos' The Lobster. While I would give Youth the biggest edge for Oscar chances, that is mostly because Sorrentino has succeeded where the others haven't. Also, the trailer just paints an overall far more interesting film that also feels accessible. We'll have to see. Even if this just ends up being one of the best movies of the year, and not an Oscar contender, it will be worth seeing if the magic of The Great Beauty can be applied to aging as well.